SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

16 Rose Street at Market, now redeveloped

Terry Fox, 552 Steps through 11 Pairs of String (14th August 1976)



552 Steps Through 11 Pairs of Strings was a performance in my loft in San Francisco in which I stretched 11 pairs of piano wires of 11 different thicknesses across the wooden floor of my studio. These wires were attached to turnbuckles at each and the turnbuckles were hooked to eye-screws screwed into the wooden floor. Each pair of wires passed over a wooden bridge at both ends. The whole took the shape of a giant horizontal harp with the longest pair of wires being 34 feet and the shortest 3 feet. These pairs of wires represent the 11 concentric rings of the Chartres labyrinth, the longest being the outside ring and the shortest representing the innermost ring. I played them with a soft mallet held in one hand and a score in the other. The score was a 34 floor string tied with 552 knots, each now representing an actual step in the labyrinth with the 34 turns indicated by either a piece of wire in a knot (a move to the next longer pair of wires) or a rubber band around a knot (a move to the next shorter pair). This 4 ½ hour performance was done with the audience in the dark loft of the next floor below. The sound moved in waves from their ceiling, which was also my floor. Their room became the sounding box of my instrument. (Fox 2000: 125)