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Office of Economic Development
Office of Economic Development

Exciting New Public Art for Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza

With the completion of the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, the City of Berkeley has an innovative new public art space in its downtown that is being programmed with a variety of engaging and dynamic art installations and cultural presentations, including an ongoing series of sound art compositions and temporary sculptural installations, as well as live music and dance performances.

Sound Art Installations

Running from April 18 through July 17, 2019, the downtown BART plaza will feature a new immersive sound installation called "Berkeley Rain" by composer and sound artist Edmund J. Campion. “Berkeley Rain” is a site specific music composition and sound installation created for the Berkeley BART Plaza. It is a timepiece, not for telling time, but one whose mysterious sonic repetitions express a continual and immersive now. Inspired by the unifying effects of rain and resonance, the sounds drip and pulse as they spatially accompany each passer-by. This audio soundscape is thirty minutes long and repeats on the hour and half hour. The work includes singing voices from the University Chamber Choruses at UC Berkeley, led by the Director of Choral Programs, Wei Cheng. Steve Adams provided the saxophone fragments and Jeremy Wagner, from the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), assisted with recording and spatial audio mixing. Edmund Campion has been active as a composer, performing artist, software developer, collaborating artist, sound artist, and educator for over 25 years.  He is a Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the Director at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (www.cnmat.berkeley.edu).  More information can be found at www.edmundcampion.com. 

Campion

Composer Ed Campion (Photo by Alex Coughlin)

 

January 18 - April 17, 2019: The downtown BART plaza featured an immersive sound installation called "The City, The Block, A Village Amongst Us…" by sound designer, composer and recording engineer Gregory Robinson. This soundscape is a representation of the City of Berkeley's rich cultural and racial diversity, its history of political protest, and its atmosphere of creativity and artistic expression. Created for the BART plaza sound poles, Robinson's audio composition weaves together an array of evocative sounds taking listeners on an auditory journey of the city through sound.

Greg Robinson 

Composer Gregory Robinson (Photo by Erica Deeman) 

 

October 18, 2018 - January 17, 2019: The first sound art installation presented on the plaza was an original site-specific composition by local composer and electronic musician, Chris Brown, called "Flow in Place" which is comprised of field recordings of musical performances and natural and urban environments from around the world. These recordings were shuffled together into sequences that accompany the movement of people heading from the BART station entrance through the plaza, suggesting conversations and connections between distant places and global environments. (More information on Brown and these recordings is available at: http://cbmuse.com/talkingdrum)

Chris Brown

Composer Chris Brown (Photo by Lenny Gonzales)

 

There are a series of ten sound art installations at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, each running for approximately three months.

 

The upcoming installations include

  • Maggi Payne                                         July 18, 2019-October 17, 2019
  • Robert Crouch & Yann Novak               October 18, 2019-January 17, 2020
  • Jim McKee                                            January 18, 2020-April 17, 2020
  • Thea Farhadian & Dean Santomieri     April 18, 2020-July 17, 2020
  • Danny Clay                                           July 18, 2020-October 17, 2020
  • Margaret Noble                                     October 18, 2020- January 17, 2021
  • Spiritual Technologies                          January 18, 2021- April 17, 2021
"Berkeley and the East Bay are home to a thriving electronic arts scene and the new Downtown Berkeley BART plaza has been built with a sound system infrastructure to give the City of Berkeley a unique opportunity to present this exciting art form. This one-of-a-kind multi-channel audio environment will engage the public in inspiring and provocative ways," said Berkeley Civic Arts Commission Chair Kim Anno.

 

Temporary Sculpture Display

In addition to the sound installations, a large-scale sculpture called Home by Berkeley-based artist Michael Christian will be on display for one year. Home resembles an oversized desktop globe. It is made of multiple layers of steel with cutout imagery of street maps from around the world. At night, light from within the piece casts shadows of these maps on the surrounding plaza. At any time of day, the artwork evokes the interconnectedness of all people and places around the world. Home was originally created for Burning Man, but has gone on to have a life beyond the desert art festival. For more information on Michael Christian's work: http://michaelchristian.com/

Home Sculpture

Photo of Michael Christian's sculpture, Home, as installed at Burning Man, 2010 (Photo by 3hammon Photography)

 

Live Performances
The plaza also showcases music performances, as well as other community and cultural presentations. Through a collaboration with the Downtown Business Association and with support from the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, this cultural activation program (called "Berkeley LIVE!") is being produced with the guiding principles of "equity, quality, community and frequency" and is managed initially by Berkeley-based Taylor Street Productions.

Link to Berkeley Live! website 

Artists who are interested in performing as part of the Berkeley LIVE! Program are invited to submit an application here (Click on "Perform on the Plaza" link): http://ontheplaza.downtownberkeley.com/

 

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