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Artboard 13@2x-100

Steve Roden (With an Ear to the Earth)

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With an Ear to the Earth

Steve Roden, With an Ear to the Earth, 2008

Havenhurst Park, 1140 N Formosa Street

About the artwork: Roden was reminded of the old saying, "if you dig a hole deep enough, you will end up in China." After looking at a globe to see if this was true, he noticed that directly opposite Los Angeles was not China, but the ocean. Roden thought about how this area of ocean is not static, and how people maybe move through it at times, leading him to early recordings of ship horns. Although beautiful, the horns were too big and disturbing for a small park. Instead of manipulating the ship recordings, Roden notated their pitches and chords, and replicated them using a banjo played with a violin bow. This transformed the thunderous sounds into a presence more like a kind of sound shadow or sound apparition – particularly as the sound occurs only once an hour, for several minutes. The sounds appear and disappear gently throughout the day unexpectedly, like the wind awakening for a few minutes to “sound” the leaves.

About the Artist: Steve Roden is a visual and sound artist from Los Angeles, living in Pasadena. His work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, film/video, sound installation, text and performance. Roden’s working process uses various forms of specific notation (words, musical scores, maps, etc.) and translates them through self invented systems into scores, which then influence the process of painting, drawing, sculpture, and composition. The inspirational source material becomes a kind of formal skeleton that the abstract finished works are built upon.

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For questions, contact Rebecca Ehemann, Public Art Coordinator at (323) 848-6846 or For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, please call, TTY: (323) 848-6496. To learn more information about the City of West Hollywood and its arts programs visit