Steel Fish, Alexander Calder (1934)
The objects in an Alexander Calder Mobile are coupled together so that their reciprocal relationship is in constant flux. Objects of various colors, shapes and sizes are connected with rods and wires. The elements will constantly move and the piece will appear in new forms. It is a new variation of itself each time you look at it. But it is still a piece.
Imagine Alexander Calder mounting one of his Mobiles. The one above, for example – Steel Fish from 1934. In order to balance all the elements I assume he had to work on the material. The weight of the objects, the size, the length of the rods, where to join the rods and such. I find that the process I take part in when playing music with Huntsville and Dans les arbres, might be usefully compared to the process I imagine Calder went through when he built and balanced his mobiles. I find that our music is a careful (and sometimes reckless) process of moulding, shaping and tweaking objects, putting them together, balancing with the other objects, trying to test and challenge the balance.
Just as each observation of a Calder Mobile refers to another observation of the same piece, and thus is a variation, so each piece of music performed by the ensembles are both new and at the same time referencing each other. They appear as variations of previous versions.