Sound artist and professor Judith Shatin’s office has a window with a view of the Rotunda—a great spot to watch University life unfold on the Lawn. In February 2006, she and filmmaker Robert Arnold mounted a camera on Old Cabell Hall to record the view so film audiences could share in Shatin’s coveted perspective. The camera captured almost half a million still images over one year. Meanwhile, Shatin collected sounds in and around the Rotunda to create an aural representation of the historic building.
The result of this collaboration is a sound and video portrait of the Rotunda that juxtaposes its timeless majesty with the ever-changing hum of daily life. The 15-minute film, Rotunda, depicts a single day on the Lawn, unfolding over an entire year, moving from dawn to dusk as the seasons change. Shatin explains that the soundscape of the film ranges “from rich low tones of the opening, to the sounds of the lawnmowers racing up the Lawn, to strong rhythmic sections, as well as fascinating brief excerpts from interviews.”
The film was screened at the UVA Art Museum as part of the special exhibition “Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece” as well as at a November’s Jefferson, Palladio & Fine Arts symposium, which brought international experts on Jefferson to Grounds. Judith Shatin is the William R. Kenan Jr. professor at the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia and the director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music. Robert Arnold is the new head of the department of Film and Photography at Montana State University.
In this exclusive excerpt from the film, watch as spring melts into summer and revel in the pomp and circumstance of Final Exercises.