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"Townhouse Stairwell"

Technique: piezo speakers, max/msp audio synthesis software, computer, mixing desk

Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art
http://thetownhousegallery.com
Cairo, Egypt

September 17–October 11, 2006


Eight piezo loudspeakers enclosed in grey plastic housings were hung down the center of the stairwell in the Towhnouse Gallery building in downtown Cairo. The eight speakers were dispersed over three stories of the stairwell. Each speaker corresponded to one audio channel and one sound, being played at intermittent intervals. Moving up and down the stairwell, one passes through different audio spaces delineated by the placement of each speaker.

Particularly challenging in realizing this work was the location of a prayer area at the base of the stairwell. I had to find sounds which did not disturb the people praying, yet which also retained a distinct enough character to heighten perception of the stairwell space.

I chose sounds which accentuated the inherent acoustical qualities of the stairwell. Depending on the time of day, these sounds either took a more prominent place in the stairwell's audio topography or were largely subsumed by the rising ambient sound levels. The Towhnouse Gallery is situated in a neighborhood of auto repair garages, and at certain times of the day street sound levels can reach very high volumes.

 

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