41

– Spring/Summer 2016

On Stuart Marshall

Alvin Lucier

Stuart Marshall, Exhibition on 3 Hills, from the series Zones 1969–70


I first met Stuart Marshall in 1969 in London. At that time, the Sonic Arts Union, of which I was a member along with Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma, was touring Europe. We were in London for a concert at the American Embassy. Stuart was a student at the Newport College of Art at the time and had come to London to check us out. Two years later he enrolled in the master’s programme at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where I had just begun teaching. He stayed at Wesleyan for one year, during which he made several beautiful works collected in his master’s thesis, titled ‘Zones 1971–72’.1 Among them were four room-tone pieces in which square wave oscillators sound at one or more resonant frequencies of the room. Loud-speakers were positioned in carefully chosen locations, and in some cases oscilloscope displays were included. Stuart was fond of translating sounds from one medium to another, as well as displacing sound environments to various locations. In Room Tone 2, a closed loop antenna runs around the room at shoulder height, its electromagnetic waves made audible to listeners by means of personal radio receivers. In Room Tone 4, vibration pickups detect floor sounds in a corridor and play them through loudspeakers in an adjacent room.