Leaders meet Sergei Tcherepnin
Mar 10, 2014

student engrossed in reading instructions

Savannah is astounded as Sergei Tcherepnin turns a cardboard box into a powerful speaker, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

On Monday March 10, YI Leaders met with 2014 Biennial artist Sergei Tcherepnin whose sound installation is in the Whitney’s lobby. He created a seven-hour audio that plays without repetition throughout the day while the Museum is open to visitors. The music, entitled Ambient Marcel (Waiting, Working, Erupting), changes dramatically during the seven hours, but it is all part of the same piece of music. Tcherepnin used eight surface transducers—devices that convert signals into vibrations—attached to lights in the lobby to make it seem like the sound is all around you. The sound is not supposed to be melodic or comforting—it is intended to be a little “annoying” so you notice it is there. 

  • teacher demonstrates a circuit board

    Tcherepnin demonstrates the synthesizer he uses to compose his music, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

  • three students testing a makeshift speaker

    Leaders pass around a speaker made from a transducer and a thin sheet of metal, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

  • playing with a circuit board

    Close up on the synthesizer, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

  • three students opening a box

    Leaders are impressed by another speaker, this one made from a transducer and a simple cardboard box, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

  • students listening at attention

    Tcherepnin speaks with the Leaders in the Whitney’s lobby, where his Biennial artwork is installed, March 2014. Photograph by Hannie Chia

Tcherepnin showed us a synthesizer and how different pieces of metal and cardboard, attached to a transducer, can change or reflect the sound that comes out of the synthesizer. He placed small transducers into boxes and used the synthesizer to create different sounds through those makeshift speakers. Recording artists and EDM DJs often use synthesizers as well to change the way you hear the beats. Sergei told us that besides art he is also interested in the way music and art can interact and work together.

It was awesome to meet a fairly young Biennial artist. Learning about his thought process and what he had to do to plan, finalize, and install his piece was very interesting. It was also exciting to actually have a hands-on experience with a synthesizer and to have Tcherepnin show us how it works.

By Rebecca, Youth Insights Leader