Jason Kahn 
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"Staircage and Blackbox"

Technique: piezo element speakers, condenser microphones

Fabrique/APO33
Nantes, France
http://apo33.org/

August 20-24, 2013


Less an institutional critique of exhibition practice than an investigation into how we perceive different spaces, "Staircage and Blackbox" uses the dissonance between the spaces of expectation (staircage) and realization (blackblox) to create a space of conflict. What does the visitor to an exhibition expect from the work? What arises when these expectations are not met (or exceeded, or are in the end not important at all)?

"Staircage and Blackbox" works with the sound of two physical spaces mirroring each other, both spaces very different yet each one feeding off impulse from the other. A microphone placed outside records the ambient sound in the staircage which is played over a concert sound system in the blackbox. A microphone hung from the center of the ceiling in the blackbox records this sound and plays it over an array of sixty piezo element speakers affixed to the walls of the steel cage outside. This cycle of sound between the two spaces creates a high pitched feedback, which has been carefully tuned to not exceed a threshold of saturation. The feedback changes in volume and frequency in accordance with the sound activity outside.

This feedback characterizes the space of conflict, at times withering and barely recognizable, at times reaching a breaking point and threatening to explode in dissent. The blackbox embodies realization, amplifying the sound of expectation (the staircage) in its empty space. Seen from a wall of glass at one end of the blackbox, the world outside passes by, reflecting the sound from the speakers but at the same time disconnected from them. The sound of feedback is the thread which connects these two spaces.

 

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