Commend There 002

Julianna Barwick — Circumstance Synthesis

Julianna Barwick’s Circumstance Synthesis observes the shape of a day from a celestial vantage. Five floating suites trace morning through night, decorating space with a spectrum of layered vocals and synths that pool together and drift apart like clouds in the clearest blue.

Commissioned by Sister City, a new neighbor to Commend in the Lower East Side of NYC, Circumstance Synthesis originated as an environmentally responsive soundtrack. At this score’s performative core, generative music technology identified activity in the New York City sky through a camera perched on Sister City’s hotel’s rooftop, triggering musical progressions created by Barwick.

Barwick intentionally created unique chord structures and bass, synth, and vocal lines for each progression that would work holistically with one another. Barwick then anticipated different airborne activity, and actors, and designated each a leitmotif – an airplane, bright sun, clouds, birds. The generative score powered by Microsoft AI resounded live through Sister City’s lobby space, and its documentation now finds a home on the ground as the second installment of There, Commend’s new off site archival series.

Circumstance Synthesis is not only a response to the changing energies of the day, but also a provisional reminder to to take a moment, breathe, and admire the more subtle evolutions within and above our busy schedules. A sprightly vocal bouquet for “morning,” as you embark on your day’s journey. The warming gleam of peak sun on your face at “noon,” followed by a reservoir of relaxed shade in the “afternoon.” The rousing majesty of of an “evening” stroll and the soft, ruminative movements of “night.” Across its arc we feel the freshness of a rustling breeze, warmth of daylight, golden bath of sunset and the inky depths of its enveloping accompaniment.

Circumstance Synthesis encourages us to seek presence in our daily routine, attuned to the comings and goings in our environment but uplifted by higher purpose: a reminder to look up and listen beyond.