Derek Hoffend | Cascade
portfolio_page-template-default,single,single-portfolio_page,postid-15711,theme-bridge,woocommerce-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,columns-4,qode-theme-ver-17.2,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_bottom,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.6,vc_responsive

About This Project


January 2010

Size: 14’ x 15’

Materials: Sound, Access Ramp, Contact Microphones, Speakers, Computer and Audio Hardware


Cascade was created for the exhibition Transpositions at the Distillery Gallery in South Boston, MA, and utilizes the access ramp in the center of the gallery, the most prominent object and architectural feature of this space that is largely overlooked in art exhibiting as well as in function. As visitors walk on the ramp, the amplified sound of their movement triggers the playback of a recording of the heating system from the artist’s Distillery studio.


Each of the ten sections of the ramp activates a different equalization filter through which the recording is played, focusing on particular resonant frequencies, characteristics, and details of this sound, with the lower end at the top of the ramp and the higher end at the bottom. Speakers positioned underneath the ramp play back the filtered sound corresponding to the section of the ramp that activated it. Walking up and down the ramp, the viewer activates a cascade of tuned sections of the harmonic spectrum of the recording.


The work transforms the function and use-value of the ramp. A functional architectural element, it becomes redefined as an interactive interface for a different kind of sense-experience. The interaction introduces a performability and playfulness to the site and the function of the ramp as an object. The sound itself is my interpretation of a signature of the building – every studio-space having its own notably loud heating system full of character. Accentuating the richness of tones in the recording from my studio reveals a hidden musicality, and using the ramp allows the viewer to perform it.