Exotic rocks

exotic rocks

At the 40th Street Cut exhibit, I was speaking with one of the artists, either Keith Evans or Dylan Bolles, and I pointed to these stones and blurted a dumb geologist question that was totally irrelevant to the artwork: “Those aren’t local rocks. Where are they from?”

They are a fairly high-grade schist, something you won’t see anywhere closer than the Sierra foothills, and maybe not even there. But that isn’t important to the art, dammit. Obviously the rocks were picked for their shape and color, to arrange in the symbolic pad under the rising and falling key evoking the Key System and contrasting the mute ground of all life with the mechanical motions of civilization and the metal rails whose relation to the rugged road metal beneath them recapitulates the pounding of hammer on rock that epitomizes Man’s Attitude To Earth——

But Keith (or Dylan) lit up instead. “I got those rocks in Maine,” he said. “They’re musical rocks. You strike them and they ring, like xylophone keys.” So these specific stones allude to the sound dimension of this work, and now you know about it too. You don’t particularly notice at first, but there are soundmaking elements that fill the room with humming tones rather like the lost electric whine of the old streetcar motors.

These guys are on their game.

4 Responses to “Exotic rocks”

  1. Robin Says:

    There’s a very interesting U.K. site on rocks that were made into musical instruments — a bit of a historical curiosity — at this URL: http://www.michaeltill.com/

    [That is so awesome that I have blogged it on About.com]

  2. fom Says:

    must go see that exhibit! love the idea of the singing stones.

  3. Debra Says:

    Thank you for this very informative blog. I check in a couple times a week and am always delighted by your description of one or another geological treasure in my hometown of Oakland. I am new to geology. I took an introductory descriptive geology class last semester at Laney college. I loved it. I have been reading as much as I can on the subject and I am keeping my hunger for geology knowledge satisfied by your About.com articles, your blog and some of the other geology blogs. Thank you for the good you put out into the community!! Cheers!

  4. Laura Says:

    If you are interested in further historical accounts of ringing rocks, I would suggest the book “Unknown Earth: A Handbook of Geological Enigmas,” by William Corliss. It is published by the Sourcebook Project. Also good for accounts of singing sands, rocks that move, enigmatic depressions, etc. It is out of print. Wonderful book.

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