Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wave Organ Pt. 1

The Wave Organ was constructed as an acoustic sculpture in the 1980s on a jetty built from grave markers that were scraped from the last cemetery in San Francisco that resisted moving to Colma. A picture of the Laurel Hill Cemetery can be seen in the middle of this page, which recounts the history of cemeteries in San Francisco, including this directly relating to the materials used in not just the Wave Organ but the jetty itself:

Plans to create a five-acre memorial park on Laurel Hill died due to lack of public support. Meanwhile, between 1939 and 1941, more than 35,000 remains were removed from Laurel Hill to Cypress Lawn. Remains were placed in redwood boxes and taken by hearse the same day to Colma. They were kept for six years in Cypress Abbey Mausoleum because World War II delayed construction of a new mausoleum. After the war, because of rising construction costs, simple concrete vaults were built beneath a five-acre burial mound for the remains. Over 1,000 bodies were interred privately.

Once the entire removal process had been completed, the tombstones were broken into pieces and used as paving materials for gutters lining the walks of Buena Vista Park. Other tombstone fragments were used to create the breakwater near the St. Francis Yacht Club and contractor Charles L. Harney was paid 80 cents per ton to dump crypts and heavy markers into the Bay. Sadly, few of the elaborate Egyptian, Gothic and Neoclassical monuments survived.

I went here on January 2, during the day, and definitely not during a full moon. I cannot attest to the sound quality of the art installation, but I have more photos to follow. I've got to break this cycle of not posting things!