You’ll Just Have to Take My Word for It (2013)

In the pre-dawn hours of November 2, 2011, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray crashed his car on a stretch of Interstate 190. He was unhurt in the accident, but data from a black box recorder contradicted his claim that he had been driving responsibly. Instead, it showed that he’d accelerated to over 100 miles per hour before colliding with a rock ledge.

You’ll Just Have to Take My Word for It interprets the data as a piece for a small ensemble. The 5-minute performance corresponds to 20 seconds of the crash—guitar one indicates the percentage that the Lt. Governor had floored the accelerator, and the speed of guitar two’s arpeggios are mapped to the subsequent RPM of the vehicle’s engine. The pitch of the tenor saxophone follows the overall motion of the car as it accelerates. On impact, the temporal scale changes so that we hear the contortions of the vehicle as it flips through space in the single second before it comes to rest.

Commission: Quiet City. Data: Lt. Governor Tim Murray, Massachusetts State Police, The Boston Globe. Tenor Sax: Steven Leffue. Guitars: Steve Cohen, Luke Schwartz. Camera: Jonathan Minard. Lights: Paul Shin. Mastering: Nik Levinsky. Photo credit: Boston Herald. Thanks: Todd Winkler, NYTLabs, Jim Moses, Kelly Dobson, Ramsey Nasser, Caroline Woolard, Greg Mihalko, A’yen Tran, Ian Oberholtzer.