This project is centered around sound in real spaces and a praxis of deep listening - listening with the ears, the mind, and with the sense of touch. This has become ongoing work, taking forms in stages, a cycle of experiencing, thinking, collecting, presenting, reflecting. It seems to me that this approach is about not imposing the creative piece like a monologue into a scene, almost arbitrarily, rather, it is entering into a dialogue with the world, where the artist speaks, then listens to the reaction, responds, and listens again.
I went to several places where people aren’t supposed to stand and listen. Locations that are interstitial. What falls through the cracks, is ignored, is neither public or private but pretty much non-existent because it is not seen as important. I’m talking about hillocks in between freeway ramps, long straight corridors where hydro lines run, empty lots, industrial factory platforms along the Fraser River, the flat zone around airports, etc. Not even farm fields, or forest trails, where people might go with purpose, but places that have no purpose except to stand as a boundary between this and that. Non-places. They don’t have a voice because few ears go there to listen.
The sculptures that emerged from this process came from wanting to immerse the viewer in the tactility found in the spaces. I found myself wanting to create pieces that privileged a sense of touch, a sense of empathy with the tactile material of mud, silt, clay, moss, and grass. Embedded in the material forms are audio devices (protected from the mud) which play the sound from the materials' respective locations, allowing the viewer of this work to listen and touch.
Provided below is a documentation which does not truly convey the experience of this work.
In the process of collecting sound from these locations, I thought about what it means to capture sound and take it away from its location of recording. Thinking about Baudrillard's theories of simulacrum, I thought about the nature of an audio file. Listening to recorded audio can offer clues as to the original place of recording, but it is still a simulation. It's as though the sound has been captured and "lifted" from its original location. I mirrored this action when I "lifted" the material physically from where I stood, listening. Lifting is also an informal word for stealing.
The difference is that the sound isn't really removed - the device I used simply made a copy and preserved it. In the case of the physical material, no copy was made, leaving a hole or void.
Further experiments could involve finding a way to remove sound the same way I removed the material. Seems physically impossible, but maybe there is a way to imitate this process. Noise cancelling headphones are able to "add silence" - perhaps there is a way to do this in a space?
Another experiment is to put the sound back where I got it, when I return the dirt, sand, soil. I thought I might play the sound back into the space; a further iteration of this idea is to design a computer program which deletes the file as it is being played. This would create an effect of "pouring" the sound out into the air.