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Aeolian Sculptures with Dan Fox

Green Space Dark Skies commissioned Dan Fox to design and create multiple Aeolian sculptures for this summer’s outdoor events.

Dan Fox, Designer and creator of the instruments.

“I first became interested when I was one of seven commissioned artists to make an installation for Audible Forces, a project for Without Walls by Oxford Contemporary Music in 2013. For that I made a large-scale touring piece called Howling Wire. I spent a lot of time researching, experimenting, and developing different techniques for converting wind into sound.”

The set of instruments include: a timpani harp, a drum harp, an anemomephone and a direction flute.

He adds, “As the wind blows, the strings vibrate and the harmonic frequencies of the strings are amplified by the timpani creating choir-like tones with cadences that ebb and flow, rising and falling with changing wind and temperature.


For more information about Dan’s work including a video that explains more about these instruments, have a look here.

A metal structure against a blue sky

Photo: Frit Tam, Passion Fruit Pictures

A metal structure with a large drum mounted on it

Photo: Frit Tam, Passion Fruit Pictures

“It’s not the same as plucking the strings of a harp or guitar – those are the fundamental pitches, these are the higher harmonics, they sound quite ethereal like the soundtrack to a sci-fi film.”

At each event the pieces are displayed to set the scene for the Lumenators and create an atmosphere for the evening. At night the rechargeable battery powered lights are used to illuminate the instruments.

“I think they create a sense of occasion and add a site-specific soundscape that is different in each location. People appreciate their sculptural forms, otherworldly sounds, and low-impact energy use. The principles of how the instruments work are fundamentally simple and this inspires people to have a go at making their own aeolian instruments.

“At night the battery powered lighting really adds to their presence and gives beautiful lighting to the gathering spaces.”

There are eight instruments, two of each instrument. All the sculptures are mounted on standard scaffold poles to ensure they are strong independently standing objects, that can withstand the outdoor elements.

The 4m high instruments have been designed to pack down to component form, making them light weight and efficient for travelling to each event and erecting quickly.

A close-up of a metal structure with a bin mounted inside it

Photo: Frit Tam, Passion Fruit Pictures