Find the wave organ sculpture hidden in between Crissy Fields and Fort Mason, a quiet walking distance east of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

A former Senior Artist in Residence from the Exploratorium and a master stone mason, Peter Richards and George Gonzalez consulted with acoustic engineers to bring together natural input from tidal waves, stones from the former Laurel Hill Cemetery and PVC pipes. Together they created a contemplative acoustic sculpture. Made the year I was born, the “organ” gets you to listen to the music of the tidal waves. Best heard at high tides, it’s a great idea especially when held in contrast with the work done by Soundwave. The Wave Organ magnifies the natural sounds of things that have been and always will be and the latter creates melodies that reflect and extoll man-made creations. Contrast that too with the moving but still waters that take on the shape of Izumi Masatoshi’s Tsukubai in the Asian Art Museum’s Betty Bogart Contemplative Alcove.

” The Wave Organ magnifies the natural sounds of things that have been and always will be…”

Past and Present

Izumi Masatoshi's Tsukubai

There is a quiet power behind experiencing the flow of water. How amazing it is that despite my being physically motionless, listening to the moving waters makes me feel very much alive. The clarity of the information source, minimally processed, unaltered, true to form, something rarely found in urban life is what draws me in conceptually. I have heard water flowing from artifically created streams, but it’s just not the same thing. Clean water renews, heals, calms. Flowing water lulls minds into meditative thoughts, some of those thoughts could quickly shift to that of alarm. What does one do with an element that threatens to pull you into the depths of the San Francisco Bay?

I like to think an answer can be found in the making of the wave organ. Approach the element with still confidence. Observe, be aware and become familiar with the tidal waves. Evaluate the waters and then with some courage, create something wonderful.

Now What?

Beach near Crissy Fields Nature Preserve

If I had a backyard it would make sense to make a quietly flowing pond full koi. Since I don’t, I visit Halprin’s lagoon and streams, or Crissy field’s nature preserve / beaches for similar experiences. Better yet, I would love to visit and meditate in the still steam pools of Iceland that’s being touted all over social media. Perhaps I can make and share a piece of art that uses either man-made or natural inputs.

Do you know of any pieces that use natural inputs? Man-made inputs? Or pieces that simply celebrate how we use and relate to water? Let me know in the comments below.

Saliem Chiu.