Alvin Lucier Alvin Lucier

Panorama (1993) / Panorama 2 (2011)

“I decided to make a piece for you, which would be similar to Sol’s wall drawing – where you would play the trombone, and string players above and below your line would try to follow you as accurately as possible… of course it’s impossible to do that, so it created the same kind of vibrancy.”

Panorama 2

As the titles suggest, both pieces are based on panoramas, in this case mountain range panoramas. Interestingly, a work of visual art, the wall drawing #730 by Sol LeWitt, was the work connecting these two pieces.
PANORAMA was initially inspired by a drawing of a mountain range nearby Zug, hometown of the pianist Hildegard Kleeb and the trombonist Roland Dahinden, to whom the piece is dedicated. Lucier transferred the ridge line of the mountain range to the trombone part of the piece. The trombonist follows this line continuously and keeps the slide in motion, even when he has to breathe. The piano punctuates single pitches (the mountain peaks) into the trombone glide, thus creating beating patterns between trombone and piano.
When Lucier and Roland Dahinden mentioned the idea for PANORAMA to Sol LeWitt, he felt inspired to use the same mountain panorama as the basis for his wall drawing #730 realized at Kunsthaus Zug in 1993. In this work, a segment of the panorama is drawn in black on the top of the wall. Alternating down the wall and using red, yellow and blue markers, respectively, three assistants try to copy each previous line as accurately as possible.
For the shooting in Zug, we had a conversation in mind where Lucier, Dahinden and Kleeb would talk about these two artworks. But, to our surprise, Lucier came up with a new piece, PANORAMA 2, that was in turn based on LeWitt’s wall drawing. Again, the trombone continuously follows the top line of a mountain panorama, this time the shape of a mountain range in Colorado, and now, like the assistants in LeWitt’s wall drawing, 13 string players try to imitate this line. In moments of silence, when the trombonist has to breathe, the trombone keeps sliding, while the string players silently move their bows. Probably because of the continuous coordination between the players, the trombonist Roland Dahinden stated that he felt like being part of a swarm of birds moving in the sky. Like the birds in a swarm, the “lines” of the strings are never at the same distance to each other; they draw closer, distance themselves from each other and create a flickering vibrancy similar to the colored lines in LeWitt’s wall drawing.
Lucier thus added another chapter to the story of mutual influence between himself and his friend Sol LeWitt, and the premiere of Panorama 2 closes the last chapter of our film in a marvelous way.