(Sound Installation @ Woods Shooting Studio, Bard College NY)
July 27th 2014
(recorded by Geoff Mullen)
This sound installation is based on a hyper-acoustic room, which contains three big air condition units for a mid-sized college building and the impossibility of controlling them. I started by mapping the room and its different acoustic zones, knowing that I won’t be able to hear all the different constellations of noises provided by the A/C-units during the setup process.
Two of them were hanging on each side of the rectangular room and the third one was in hidden in a big storage room adjunct to the main room. I then attached piano strings to these machines to track their vibrations and sounds and send them to sound objects such as a sound board, a metal plate, a piece of yet unfurnished cedar and a metal pipe and one string out of the closet all the way across the room, touching the other strings. The strings were mounted with magnets, to keep each connection variable, temporary and precarious. Additionally I had 3 wooden rods balanced to the objects, falling or not falling down in moments of high excitement.
Four speakers and a subwoofer were placed in the corners of the room, amplifying each wooden and metal object at the end of the wires, just a little bit, right before they would start to feedback with themselves (the right side of the room’s inputs to the left side of the speakers and vice versa). This blended well with the natural sounds of the A/C’s and so created an even more complex acoustic field, while maintaining the aesthetics of everyday noise.
During the installation two entirely different ways of consumption occurred: Many people told me that when they were alone in the room the were just wandering around listening, watching and enjoying this ambience, whereas when there were more people in the room people started to touch, plug and even hit the strings and creating intense sounds so that at some point in the afternoon even a very rhythmical and energetic jam session occurred transferring what I had intended as sculptural installation into a huge interactive social instrument.
Asked if I wanted people to touch the strings and objects, I said “Who am I to tell people what to do?”, and I was indeed very pleased with seeing the installation getting a live of it’s own raising questions of spectatorship, crowd dynamics, loneliness and the consumption of art in a exhibition.
all photos by Taryn Haydostian