Chimes, they are a changin’
As students returned from the holiday break they were greeted by some major renovations that were done to the columns outside of Joyner Library. A revamped sound now rings through the columns as students pass underneath them.
“It threw me off at first,” said Collena Robertson, an exercise physiology major. “It’s not what I’m used to. I didn’t even know they could change the sounds,” she said.
“They are definitely a lot louder than the other sounds and catch your attention quicker,” said Haley Sexton, a communication major.
The Sonic Gates are part of the Sonic Plaza that makes up most of the structures in the Joyner Library area. Just before New Years, the sound card burned in the Sonic Gates system, forcing a repair.
Carl Twarog, the Sonic Plaza Curator and a professor in the School of Art, discovered the sensors had been wired backwards. The system was gutted from sensors to chips, wiring and code, and replaced with an upgraded system that is running on the latest Atmel chip, said Twarog.
“The software program that receives the sensor signal reports from the chip and then triggers the sounds, can tell time, which is why the sound banks can be changed on timely intervals,” he said.
During the renovation, Twarog said that the original wiring had been subject to moisture, condensation and sweating. Now, the wire has been replaced with a new technology that has a special gel inside so that if the outside casing were damaged in any way, the gel would help protect it.
“Soon music students will be able to make sounds and banks of sounds for the columns. Already art students make animation and video for the monitor ring and have been doing so since the Sonic Plaza’s inception,” said Twarog. He said a key factor of the installation was student participation.
“We’re trying to do better,” said Twarog. “The Sonic Plaza has to be maintained. The show to the viewers can’t change, but the components that make the show possible have to.”
Christopher Janney is the original artist of the Sonic Plaza, which is comprised of the sonic gates, percussion water wall, the ground cloud and the media Glockenspiel and “artipult.”
Twarog shares the same passion as Janney did, which is to have more students get involved in maintaining and modernizing the Sonic Plaza.
Twarog said the water wall will have new patterns in the spring that were created by art students. Also, sculpture students created all of the sculptures that come out of the clock.
“The goal for the future is to get more students to participate,” said Twarog.
Twarog hopes that students and faculty become passionate about the preservation of the Sonic Plaza because it is one of only 62 pieces in the North Carolina Artworks in Public Buildings Collection.
“The Sonic Plaza is worth preserving and advancing. It is a unique artwork that will grow, adapt to and integrate new technology,” Twarog said.
Due to budget cuts, the Public Buildings Collection has not closed, but is not currently growing either. The Sonic Plaza is a part of campus that is more famous than most students would imagine. The plaza has brought public attention to campus by being cited in major art journals, public art journals and public art textbooks.
“With ECU’s continued commitment, the Sonic Plaza will be here for many, many generations of North Carolinians, guests and ECU students to enjoy,” said Twarog.
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