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Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken

Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken is formed from 365 wind chimes

This installation at California's Donum Estate by American artist Doug Aitken arranges a series of hanging wind chimes.

Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken

Sonic Mountain, Sonoma is nestled into the eucalyptus grove of the 200-acre Sonoma County property, which is known for its vineyards.

Aitken used wind chimes to construct the project so that it would respond to the movements and interactions of its immediate environment to create music.

Three circular metal frames, that differ in size, provide the base for 365 wind chimes that are arranged according to length, and hang vertically from the rounded scaffolding. When wind blows it activates the chimes, which intermittently make a sound depending on the current wind conditions.

Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken

"As an interactive artwork, Sonic Mountain explores the fluidity of time by creating a continuously evolving experience that is activated by the surrounding landscape," Aitken said.

"Mimicking a wind chime, the installation responds to changes in the surrounding environment and creates patterns of sound as wind moves through it."

Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken
Photo by Doug Aitken Studio

The piece is also activated by other natural elements. Depending on the time of day or season the light and landscape are reflected onto the metallic structure to create different colours and patterns.

Visitors are welcome to walk around, in and through the installation, but encouraged not to touch and instead just "enjoy the sonic-space produced by natural elements."

Brooklyn multimedia artist Hisham Akira Bharoocha curated a musical composition using the installation. For the project, 20 drummers were commissioned to simultaneously play the chimes to compose a harmonious melody called 20 Percussionists for Sonic Mountain. The studio plans to publish a documentary featuring footage and audio of the piece in October.

Sonic Mountain by Doug Aitken

Donum Estate, owned by Mei and Allan Warburg, is a vineyard that specialises in varieties of pinot noir and houses a growing collection of commissioned art pieces in its open-air exhibition spaces. The collection also features works from Ai Weiwei and Yayoi Kusama.

Doug Aitken's artwork is often adventurous and experimental. His previous works include a 100-foot-tall (30-metre-tall) hot air balloon made of a semi-mirrored material that he launched to tour Massachusetts and an underwater installation that invited people to swim inside mirrored geodesic domes anchored to the seabed near California's Catalina Island.


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His other site-specific works include the small house-shaped structure covered entirely in mirrors he created for the Desert X festival held in Coachella Valley.

Photography is by Jamie Barron unless noted otherwise.