Back in 2008, when Ethan Rose and I had an idea to collaborate on a glass-sound installation, neither of us had any reason to assume the outcome would be anything other than the result of a fun challenge and an opportunity to learn a little more about each other's work. Little did we know the entire project would metastasize into an epic adventure, drawing us into historical dramas, extended dilemmas surrounding acoustics and resonance, complicated engineering problems, clever logistical and budgeting solutions, travel to distant lands, and a half-decade of intellectually stimulating dialogue. Transference, from the moment it was conceived, was trouble to execute. Yet after four exhibitions and several critical mechanical refinements, the piece has transformed (in my mind, at least) from a stressful battle of will that resulted in a subtle-yet-pleasing gallery experience into a sonic and visual indulgence that I look forward to seeing, hearing, and setting up again. It's sound has become something like the voice of an old friend.
Originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR under the invaluable and prescient directorship of Namita Gupta Wiggers, Transference was born in a small garage. To date, it has been shown in variable configurations at the MoCC, the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and again at the MoCC for Object Focus: The Bowl. Each exhibition has given the piece a chance to become stronger, louder, and more reliable. Now, a selection of tones is slated to be purchased by the MoCC for their permanent collection. Who knew?