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Bill Orisich: Miner Key


Bill Orisich: Miner Key

Reiling Dredge via B&B Trailhead / Parking Lot
August 16 – 25, 2024 | 1-4pm daily

Hiking Distance: 3 mile round trip  

ADA Accessible   

The Reiling dredge operated from 1909 until it sank in 1922. Miner Key is a site-specific sonic experience inspired by the history, sound, shape, texture, rhythm, and beauty of the Reiling Dredge. It recalls a time when this place was teeming with mining enterprises, oblivious and in stark contrast to the pristine natural environment, and envisions the past in the context of the present.  

Breckenridge International Festival of Arts

Bill Orisich is one of three featured artists in the 2024 Trail Mix as a part of Breck Create’s signature annual festival, BIFA. Trail Mix combines art + nature, with hikers and bikers following a trail to an art installation.


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In the early 1900’s, dredges aggressively turned the rivers and streams of Breckenridge upside down in the mining industry’s quest for gold. The dredges were so destructive (and profitable) that nothing stood in their way, not even houses in their path. Disruptive, loud and on a 24/7 schedule, the cacophony they created was a constant maddening ambience, although to some it may have been a musical symphony of sounds. The dredges left behind the distinctive piles of river rocks still visible today around Breckenridge.  

Built from the sounds of the dredging process and the natural world, the 10-minute piece creates a powerful and engaging soundscape. Sonic depictions of digging, rock crushing, steam engines, water, voices working, local species and weather are edited, treated, looped, integrated and arranged with musical instruments. The sounds change as listeners move toward the dredge.  

Although not primarily historical in nature, Miner Key aims to inspire listeners to appreciate the current beauty and significance of the site, explore the history and environmental impact dredging created, and imagine a past time when this area was alive with activity, both industrial and natural.   

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Bill Orisich is a filmmaker, musician/sound artist, photographer based in Breckenridge, CO. His work ranges from sound art, films, and music, to multi-channel visual/audio installations. He is inspired by exploring the response a site and its history can evoke, especially the human/nature dichotomy. Research, experimentation, and collaboration are key elements in Bill’s work, as is the search for the tension, humor, and mystery contained therein.

Bill’s art work has been presented in numerous exhibits and film festivals, including the 5-channel collaborative video installation: ground loop, at Whitespace gallery in 2018; when I whistle, a 3-channel, site-specific installation at the historic Swan House in Atlanta in 2016; and horse drawn piano, a moving sound/sculptural performance piece for Flux Night, Atlanta in 2013. In 2023 Bill’s photographs have been in exhibitions at CPAC in Denver; projected in downtown Denver as part of photography month; In August he created a sound piece for the installation, Invisible Matters, in Rochester, NY; and has ongoing music projects.

His film production company Whoa! Films, has been creating award winning commercial, and educational videos for over 30 years. It serves as a creative hub and production resource for his art projects and a training ground for emerging media makers and musicians. He received his BA and MS degrees respectively in Fine Arts and Education/media design from Indiana University. He’s also taught animation as part of the National Endowment for the Arts Artist-In-Schools program, among other workshops.

Bill gets energy and inspiration from being active outdoors in the mountains.