The Kite Choir is an ensemble with custom-made kites and aeolian sound instruments that builds upon traditions of singing kites from China, Japan, Vietnam, and Bermuda. While the sound instruments in these traditions are carried aloft by the kites they are attached to, the Kite Choir utilizes the tow-line and reel of the kite as the sites of instrumentation, to promote a collaborative chain of agency across atmosphere, kite, and performer.
The instruments developed so far include both acoustic and electronic components: ribbon tow-lines attached to contact mics and portable mini-amps; tin-can resonator reels; “hurdy-gurdy” reels of various sizes and materials; mp3 players attached to short-range FM transmitters in relation to ground-based radios. The development of these kites and sound instruments is a heuristic aesthetic practice of attunement with the atmosphere. The score for the choir, written by Paula Matthusen, provides a variable a set of instructions contingent upon aeolian, climatic, temporal, and psychological conditions. This score is printed as decks of “playing cards,” based on flag signaling systems. The videos included here are some of the “soundings” in the ongoing development of the project.
The choir had its first iteration as a collective workshop in Weather Permitting, the 2018 Iowa State University Department of Architecture Venice Biennale Session. More information on those workshops and colloquium can be found here. Many thanks to the Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellowship and the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University for their generous support.
The project is a collaboration between Paula Matthusen and Fırat Erdim, with assistance from Kaitlin McCoy.
Sound Instruments and Kites (white): Fırat Erdim
Kite Choir Score: Paula Matthusen