Visitors at the Seattle Art Fair explore an exhibit by Rachel Rossin that includes paintings and virtual reality goggles. Credit Evan McGlinn for The New York Times
SEATTLE — Physicists, picking up where Einstein left off, say the titanic impact of two black holes colliding can make a sound detectable through gravitational waves that wash across space and time. Dawn Kasper, in trying to create her version of that sound as a project for the Seattle Art Fair, said she thought it might be a little like the fading echoes of a great Seattle rock show, in the resonant hum of a crashing cymbal.
“Good night, Seattle!” she shouted on a recent morning as she worked.
Ms. Kasper, a 39-year-old New York-based performance artist, hired an intern to hunt down 80 used drum-kit cymbals that had been through lives of pounding percussive passion in the Pacific Northwest. She wanted character, not shiny out of the box. Some of the cymbals she got were grimy with age and water spots that hinted of concerts in the rain. Others were chipped, dinged and dented.
Then Ms. Kasper wired up the cymbals with motion sensors and fingernail-sized electronic motors that would set each cymbal to vibrating as visitors to the exhibit, called “Star Formation,” walked by. Each person’s motion created a web of shimmering metallic harmony from brass disks of different sizes, arrangements and flaws.
“You walk through space and you have cause and effect,” she said.