Rainforest V (Variation 1) is an ecosystem of objects that envelops viewers in sound. Chirping, croaking, clicking, or ringing, each sculpture speaks in its own voice, which resonates through the gallery to become part of a collective cacophony. According to Tudor, who first conceived the piece in the 1960s, the concept grew out of the “dream-vision of an orchestra of loudspeakers, each speaker being as unique as any musical instrument.” To this end, the work employs found materials—including, among other objects, a metal barrel, a vintage computer hard disc, and plastic tubing. They are suspended in space, and visitors can walk among them to experience the installation both visually and sonically from different positions.
The genesis of this work is the score Tudor created for Rainforest (1968), a dance by the American choreographer Merce Cunningham. While Tudor made a number of different Rainforest compositions, the breakthrough occurred in 1973 with Rainforest IV, when he expanded the score from a sonic composition to an installation created in collaboration with a group of young artists and musicians later known as Composers Inside Electronics. Over time the number of objects in the installation grew from eight to twenty to forty. Described as an “evolution” rather than a reconstruction of this historical work, Rainforest V (Variation 1) encapsulates different generations of the piece, transforming a work that was once activated by performers into a self-sustaining installation that “performs” itself.
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).