“The sound dictates your body in a physical way,” said Elizabeth, a regular of “The Dream House: Sound and Light Environment” who declined to give her last name. “You discover things about your body you never knew. If moving really slowly creates a new sound, you move towards that slow sound.” While some guests move around, others simply meditate, reflecting and resting within the Zen of the installation.
The “Dream House” is a unique exhibit utilizing sound and light techniques created by minimalist composer La Monte Young and his wife Marian Zazeela. The exhibit’s setup is simplistic, consisting of a square room with no furniture, alabaster walls decorated with magenta lights, purple tinted windows, orbit-shaped ceiling structures, carpeted floors and a couple of pillows thrown in for comfort. The single room is infused with incense, which gives the exhibit an eerie ambiance. The walls are bare except for a lone picture of Young.
The exhibit’s originality, however, rests on the sounds accompanying the exhibit. Visitors can alter the music waves (emitted by two large “sine wave generators”) simply by moving. This feature attracts many visitors to run, walk, perform somersaults, stretch and do yoga, as they listen for the changing sounds. “This control over the sound allows visitors to feel liberated, like they can do and control anything they want,” said a volunteer at “Dream House,” who declined to give his name.
What sounds like continuous drilling accompanied by a church organ makes up La Monte Young’s song, “The Base 9:7:4 Symmetry in Prime Time When Centered above and below The Lowest Term Primes in The Range 288 to 224 with The Addition of 279 and 261 in Which The Half of The Symmetric Divisions Mapped above Including 288 Consists of The Powers of 2 Multiplied by The Primes within The Ranges of 144 to 128, 72 to 64 and 36 to 32 Which Are Symmetrical to Those Primes in Lowest Terms in The Half of the Symmetric Division Mapped below and Including 224 within The Ranges 126 to 112, 63 to 56 and 31.5 to 28 with The Addition of 119,” named for the math formulas the sine wave generators (two large white boxes on either side of the room) use to create the sound frequencies.
Young’s formula creates 31 different sound frequencies. The formulas create an array of seventh and ninth intervals that overlap in the exhibit’s small room. The different tones and intervals in turn create different rhythmic patterns and wavelengths.
First time visitor to “Dream House” Melinh Lai described how the exhibit makes you feel “like you could do anything,” Lai said. “It’s very soothing and relaxing. It gives you a weird sense of euphoria and energy.”
“Dream House” has been open every year since 1993 from fall equinox to summer solstice. For only five dollars, one can remain in the exhibit as long as desired—however, a visitor needs at least a half-an-hour to experience the full magic of the exhibit.
In the “Dream House,” time seems to fade away, replaced by bliss and an endless amount of warmth, comfort and liberation. In the safe haven of the “Dream House”, anything is possible. After all, it is the “Dream House.”
The Dream House
275 Church Street (between Franklin and White Streets)
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
2:00 PM – 12:00 AM
This Season through June 20, 2009