If the gods had a harp, what might it look and sound like? Well, it might look something like this massive sculpture by British artist Luke Jerram. Named "Aeolus" after the Greek god of the winds, it's activated by the wind, singing exquisite, otherworldly tunes out of its 310 polished stainless steel tubes when there's even the slightest draft.
Inspired by nature, engineering, acoustics and architecture, this enormous "Aeolian harp" has amazing acoustical properties due its double curved arch (based on Jerram's research into mosques), and uses tubes and a network of tuning strings to produce sound, according to Designboom:
The strings are joined to exterior posts, connected to several of the pipes extruding from the arch's surface. Outfitted with a skin to cover the tops of these pieces, the vibrations of the strings and skin projected down
through the tubes, communicated to viewers standing beneath the arch. steel cylinders left unconnected to the strings of the instrument also add to the soundscape as they hum at lowered frequencies, responding to the external influences of wind and environmental vibration.
In Eastern mythology, it's said that sound is the primordial seed of all creation. Jerram's research into Islamic spiritual architecture and their acoustics provided the backbone for this project, with the sounds emitted by this sculpture being deeply meditative vibrations layered upon one another, shifting like a audial chameleon with evocative and pure sounds, creating some amazing soundscapes:
There's an interesting back story to "Aeolus" too, thanks to a research trip to Iran that Jerram undertook in 2007:
While in Yazd, the artist met with a desert qanant well digger, speaking to him of his trade. The well digger explained to the artist that his work process included traveling into the desert with an axe, first drawing a circle in the sand, then digging straight down into the rock. After the well digger hit the water table with his axe, he would dig across, moving the water to the neighboring towns. Every 50 meters, he would cut an air vent for anyone working below ground to breathe more easily. The well digger explained to jerram that the wells would sometimes sing and make noises as wind blows over the top.
Truly an amazing sculpture that comes to life with the wind; it's currently installed at London's Canary Wharf in Canada Square until May 10, 2012, with the artist looking for a permanent home for the piece. More information on Luke Jerram's website.