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December 28, 2011 / Tamara Reynolds

DIRT Artist in Residence

I recently completed an Artist in Residence/Guest lectureship at Franklin Pierce University. The AIR was a three-component project examining social, pedagogical and historic constructs. When offered the opportunity to have access to the entire campus, student body and faculty, I was immediately struck with the unbelievable opportunity to engage in a critical, non-hierarchical pedagogy; essentially building on the existing community potential and ratcheting it up via social exchange. I was prepared to have the proposed idea scraped due to it’s public nature; utilizing an internet platform as an ongoing forum and archive document. To my surprise, I was completely supported by the university.

The interdisciplinary aspect of this campus-wide engagement then led me to create a video/soundscape for the night of the exhibition. For the work, I recorded sound over the course of a typical day at university (7:30 am to 7:30 pm). I returned again the next day to capture video footage within the same time frame. I was utterly exhausted by the last take, but I rigorously adhere to my ‘rules’ set for every project. It is what it is has become my mantra at the end of the final recording wrap. I take it back to the studio, and magically, it always is enough, just right. The real gems are those small things I am too tired or wrapped up in the moment while recording to realize until I begin editing. The comment under the breath of someone passing, the clock striking in the distance, an airplane, a flock of geese departing.

I often utilize video technology in my sound work, but rarely sync the two mediums to not only avoid typical aesthetics, but to keep the audience engaged in the process of acute listening. Despite laying the tracks down together, I was careful to allow bleed and chance moments to seep into the work. I am enraptured much more by the momentary thumb over the lens in old home-movie reels than the events unfolding in front of the lens. Such less than perfect moments startle me, a reminder of the human presence behind the technology.

“A Social Excavation”

A soundscape was created along the central axis of the Student Center as a socio-historical unearthing of the site. The campus buildings and it’s borders were examined, co-mingling past with present, in an experiential sound chamber. The sound chamber was housed in a 25′ long corridor which links the Student Center with the Central Commons of the campus, often used by students and faculty as a transitional cut-through from the lower level of the building (zig zagging pathways running its length via ramps and stairs) upwards to the outdoors. The bends in the corridor created an element of surprise from either end, unable to see to the opposing entrance immediately. The lights were doused and sound was funneled through resonant HVAC duct-work above 24/7. The objective in my proposing  the installation in the service corridor was to heighten the awareness of this in-between space; shifting time and place for a moment.

Sound Chamber

for more on the project:


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