Of all the string installations that have appeared on the site, this is the first one that moves. Artist David Letellier‘s installation Caten is housed in the Saint Sauveur chapel in Caen, France. The strings-hanging-on-strings are controlled by four motors and the entire assembly moves slowly to the resonate sounds of an abstracted hymn. David studied architecture, and in his own words: “the curves of the wires, created by the gravitational force, reflect the shapes of the church arches.”
The sound composition is inspired by the medieval solmisation prayers, especially the first verse of “Ut Queant Laxis”, also known as the “hymn to St John the Baptist”, used in the eleventh century to determine the names of the notes of the scale used in latin countries.
At each turn, the engines emit one of the first 4 notes of the scale (Ut, Re, Mi, Fa), creating a sequence of intervals, constantly reconfigured. Low frequencies resonate in the space and emphazise the transcendental character of a place once dedicated to faith.
The name is derived from the term catenary, which describes the plane curve formed by a rope hanging between two points.