Kuklos is a large scale, site-specific composition/sound installation developed at Lucerne Valley Flats, California. Linear time in music, as we tend to think of it, is changed by distance into something like the ancient Greek notion of cyclic time, recurrent and fluid. The piece takes place within a circle on the desert floor that is 1 mile in diameter, an area large enough to use the speed of sound through air as a compositional element.

Speakers ring the installation space to produce a giant organized sound field, creating moments of synchronous and asynchronous sound events that evolve throughout the day, allowing visitors to discover resonant nodes, beating or interference patterns, and phasing relationships between one or more distant speakers.

Once sound it leaves a loudspeaker it takes approximately 5 seconds to traverse the full mile-wide diameter of the circle. So although Kuklos is “composed” in that specific loudspeakers emit sound at precise times to reach specific destinations at exactly the right moment, the actual experience of hearing the music is heavily determined by where a given lister is physically located at any given time. The perceptive ordering of sonic events is therefore in the hands of the listener, not the composer.

Instead of describing how to reproduce the original sound objects, the score for Kuklos is instead a map of (some of) the resonant nodes in the piece, along with vague indications about when events might occur. These are handed out to visitors as they arrive. The map suggests possible trajectories for walking or biking the performance, but not all nodes are connected by predefined paths. It is up to each lister to decide how to experience the piece.