Wood, string, mylar, electronics, sound, light
In 2007, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund inaugurated The West Wall Project to recognize and support some of the talented artists who have received Creative Work Fund grants. Every 18 months, an artist is commissioned to create an original work for display on the west wall of the Fund’s offices at One Lombard Street in San Francisco. At the end of the display period, the Fund returns the artwork to the artist who contributes it in an appropriate form to a nonprofit organization of his or her choosing. The Fund’s business is philanthropy, and this commissioning project emphasizes the idea of giving.
Paddling across a body of water initiates a symphony of reactions as waves propagate from the sides of the boat, fish dive away from the bow, eddies drift in the wake, animals ashore react, birds respond. In the distance life returns to normal but it has been inexorably changed, however slightly.
We Are Everything We Are Not is a reflection on the nature of our personal and collective meanderings. It is a response to the self-oriented lens through which we tend to view the world. Our actions often have implications far beyond the span of our attention and the reach of our vision.
The piece is meant to encourage us to broaden our attention to encompass both the intended and hidden consequences of our endeavors. But primarily, it is meant to be a delightful and thought provoking encounter.
Walter Kitundu wished to thank (in no particular order) David Harrington, Alice Wingwall and Donlyn Lyndon, Laurie Lazer and Darryl Smith, Meshell N’degeocello, Tân Khánh Cao, Paulette Baker, Siobahn Ruck, Joanna Haigood, Peter Richards, Eungie Joo, Mike Petrich and Karen Wilkinson, his mother Mary Ellen Kitundu and his late father Dr. Peter Ayubi Kitundu.
As Instrument Builder-in-Residence Kitundu imagined new instruments with David Harrington and then designed and built them for projects like Cerulean Sweet, a 3-part work Kitundu also composed and subsequently and performed in.
Kronos Quartet also commissioned a set of instruments for a piece inspired by Ethiopian artist and begena player Alemu Aga. Kitundu built a drone instrument for two, a viola with a wind/reed/drone built in, and a double necked Begena built from two cellos.
He was also commissioned to create set of Stroh instruments for a Terry Riley composition. Stroh instruments originated when recordings were made by playing into a large bell and the sound was engraved into discs or rolls. The subtlety of stringed instruments were lost in the mix until stroh instruments, which are amplified like gramophones through membranes and horns, provided the loud directional sound that was needed.
Kronos also commissioned Kitundu to build the world's first electric version of a 2000 year old Chinese instrument for the inimitable Wu Man, one of the world's great pipa players. And a set of musical benches that doubled as duo-tone drums.