On winter evenings, people walking down Western Avenue in Allston are greeted by a blast of colors, images, and sound streaming through the windows of Harvard’s Ed Portal. A 20-minute video loop called “Frequencies” plays crowdsourced sounds and visuals collected from community members and remixed plays nightly from 5 to 10 through Feb. 28.
The art installation is a collaboration between two local artists: musician and composer Maria Finkelmeier and digital glitch artist Allison Tanenhaus ’05. After meeting at an Ed Portal artists’ workshop led by Finkelmeier, the two became fans of each other’s work and, eventually, friends as well. Early in the pandemic lockdown they capitalized on the digital aspects of collaboration and began to experiment with creating videos that combined Finkelmeier’s percussive sound with Tanenhaus’ art. “Frequencies” is their first commissioned work as collaborators.
“When the artists first pitched this project, we all knew it would be a bright star in Boston’s long, cold winters, but none of us expected we’d be this deep in COVID exhaustion, too. ‘Frequencies’ really energizes the neighborhood,” said Eve C. Alpern, assistant director for arts programming at the Ed Portal.
With support from the Ed Portal and a Transformative Public Art grant from the Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, a video mural has been up and running since November. The loop incorporating all new sounds and footage went live in early January
“This past year, through the Transformative Public Art Program, we really focused on supporting projects that aimed to make space for joy, reconnection, and celebration. ‘Frequencies’ engaged with several of the themes of the program this year, including addressing our current sense of place and interrelatedness, providing a space for people to come together in a way that was safe, and finding a way to celebrate aspects of our daily lives during what continues to be such a difficult moment in time for so many of us,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, chief of arts and culture for the city of Boston.