The Aria-Compass Projects
The Aria-Compass Projects are a body of work created, performed, and produced under the direction of Michael L. Heivly. Based in southern California, Heivly uses radiowaves as sculptural form in an exploration of deep space as an artistic medium. For the past twenty years he has been collaborating with others to translate landscapes into musical sound pattern compositions which are transmitted into the universe through the use of microwave technology.


These compositions are derived by assigning musical pitches to the topographical contours of specific sites. Computers and synthesizers are used to develop and play the patterned sounds while large, wand-like transmitters change them into microwaves which are projected into deep space. Like a light beam when transmitted, the microwave energy becomes a cone shaped sculptural form that moves through space at the speed of light while retaining its form for many millennia.

Past works have focused on the challenge these sculptures present to the sensory abilities normally depended upon for an understanding of art. The audience is aided in their conceptualization of the work by participating in live performances that accompany the transmission of the micro-wave forms into space. The fact of the existence of these forms in deep space, however imperceptible, invites the audience to re-evaluate that which is essential to art and to learn to use their subjective and objective experiences in new ways. The intention of the work has been to create an environment of confrontation between the known and the unknown that requires audience-participants to use their imaginations as perceptual tools. In this way, their response to the transmission becomes an active, as well as a reflective element of its meaning.

Previous works include both solo and invitational presentations in Buffalo, New York; San Diego, California; San Francisco, California; Florence, Italy; and Geneva, Switzerland. Most recent collaborations have included the National Computer Graphic Arts Conference with the San Jose Museum of Art, a collaboration with the Tandy Beal Dance Company at Santa Clara University and most recently as an Artist in Residence at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland.

Current work focusing on the process of creative collaboration with other artists is being expanded to include on-site, theatrical-music productions that are simultaneously performed and transmitted into deep space. These productions weave together the topography of the land with the rhythms and legends of the inhabitants to form a musical tapestry which has the potential to reconnect people with their collective cultural roots and transform their perceptions of the universe.


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