Wave Opus is a series of sound sculptures intended for both live performance and self-play. Wave Opus III, commissioned by the IMA for Manning’s 2017 survey exhibition is the largest scale instrument the artist has produced to date. Three rows of aluminium tubes are cut at varying lengths to form an undulating three-dimensional surface, reminiscent of a waveform. A single length of rope runs alongside each row and is connected to motors at either end. As the motors spin, the rope creates unique waveforms—striking the charms in a cadenced yet coincidental orchestral performance.
Manning sees this work as a kind of ‘tonal curtain’; using a literal and figurative wall of sound to divide the space. The gallery acts as a resonator that amplifies the striking of the chimes. The cylindrical shape of the tubes produce further resonance. The length of each tube determines the note, like a xylophone or marimba. The waveform pattern created by the graduated layering aluminium is modeled on speech patterns.
Self-built instruments, such as Wave Opus III, have been recorded by the artist to make music. Manning’s LP Reflex in Waves layers sounds sourced from the Wave Opus series and other instruments to construct a unique audio landscape of reverberation, rhythm, and chance cadence.