Earthquake Mass Re-imagined : 2022
Twelve modified turntables play vinyl pressings of a 15th century choral mass, in response to seismic data. Antoine Brumel’s ‘Earthquake’ Mass (c.1497) is a stunningly intricate work of Renaissance-age choral music for twelve voices. The final movement Agnus Dei was discovered rotting away, partly consumed by organic processes, as if returning to the earth.
The artwork is centred around the twelve individual vocal parts of Brumel’s Agnus Dei recorded by Mexican Choir ‘Staccato’. The vocals have been cut to vinyl to play back on adapted turntables with additional motors to control the lift and drop the needle onto the record. The physical soundwaves of human voices engraved into a surface creates a metaphor for the movements of the earth, as tectonic plates shift on geological timescales, creating seismic waves of extremely low frequency.
Hinde consulted with Mexico’s top seismologists to inform the artwork. Seismic data from the earthquake that shook Mexico on 19th September 2017 shapes the behaviour and playback of the record players. As seismicity rises, the vocals become more fragmented and shift in density. As the earth re-settles, the voices are reconfigured in a new way, yet remain disjointed.
The untreated vocals on the record players are accompanied by a textural, spatialised soundscape created from processes inspired by seismological research. Hinde resonated the vocal recordings in locations with significant historical seismic activity in Mexico, including 16th century monasteries that sustained damage from the 2017 earthquake. She further displaced the recordings by re-recording them travelling through the earth at relevant locations in Mexico. Seismic data has also been directly translated into sound within human hearing range.
Playing on both the title of Brumel’s work and Mexico’s seismic instabilities, Hinde presents a work that ties the emotional power of Brumel’s composition to the ruptures of the world we inhabit 500 years later.
Installation created by Kathy Hinde
Source material: Angus Dei from Earthquake Mass by Antoine Brumel
Vocals performed by Staccato, directed by Marco Antonio Ugalde, recorded & mastered by Paco Aveleyra.
Installation control software by Matthew Olden
Data processing by Professor Chris Hinde
Fabrication assistance by Jasmine Butt
Vinyl mastering and cutting by Dub Studio
Consultant Seismologists at UNAM – Dr. Gerardo Suárez Reynoso, Dr. Xyoli Pérez Campos, Dr. David A. Novelo Casanova, Dr. Carlos Valdés Gonzále and Dr. Allen Husker.
Staccato choir:, Discantus I: Pamela Suárez; Discantus II: Laura Becerril; Discantus III: Andrea Ríos; Contratenor I: Jaqueline Zárate; Contratenor II: Adrián Mejía; Contratenor III: Jairo Calderón; Tenor I: Francisco Mendoza; Tenor II: Alfredo Rodríguez; Tenor III: Aarón Corte; Bassus I: Miguel Mejía; Bassus II: Víctor Durán; Bassus III: Gerardo Vásquez
Commissioned by Cryptic in partnership with Anglo Arts (part of the The Anglo Mexican Foundation), Mexico & Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).