Repercussions is a series of sound and image projection works (investigations) which examines how we speak and how we listen. The use of language and phonetics to create rhythms are a method to examine what we say and how we say it in hopes to understand meaning.
My interest in language, in retrospect, stems from a year in which I became a selective mute so my focus was on listening.
The title “Repercussions” refers to the aftermath of speaking and the beginning of listening/comprehension, the moment when speech ends and meaning sinks in. Repercussions a four part installation consisting of sixteen speakers and two video projectors. The volume of the sixteen speakers are computer controlled so that anyone or any combination of speakers are programmed to be active.
The parts are as follows:
Repercussions: The Shooting (at Custer Street)
In this work, my first sound work, I explored intonation by editing together common words used in the recording. Meaning was altered by separating nouns and verbs from sentences then recombining in other ways.
Changes in intonation express changes in the feelings being expressed as repetitions of key words and phrases intensify their relationships.
Particular syllables that are phonemically related, repeated words that recurs throughout the recording and whose slight changes in intonation are normally obscured in their separation from one another create the rhythm. Placing the utterances together reveal the melody of one word spoken many times by the same or different persons.
During this part of the work, the sound ricochets around the room in staccato rhythms.
Repercussions: The Sirens Await
After the shooting, death awaits for the victim. Taking in the meaning of the spoken work primarily happens at the moment the sentence ends. This work is composed entirely of echos (the moment speech ends). A text was read in an empty indoor pool. The speech was edited out so only the echoes remain. The resulting recording was played back in the same space and re-recorded.
The title refers to Homer’s epic poem the “Odyssey” when Odysseus has his body strapped to the mast of the ship in an effort to be able to listen to the song of the Sirens without steering the ship to his demise. This work follows “The Shooting (at Custer Street) as it is a lure to Death.
The sounds in the segment ungulate in the space.
Repercussions: Cross Examinations
While studying phonetics and the physical mechanics of forming speech, the phrase “Stop the Voice, End the Movement” is used to indicate the end of speaking and the start of silence. “Cross Examinations” spoken by a male and female is never heard in its entirety but understood by the end of the piece showing how the mind constructs something that doesn’t exist.
The work is intended to create not an atmosphere of debate (from the Latin de battuere, “to beat down”) rather to create an atmosphere of discussion (L. discutere, “to investigate”) which as a society we are currently lacking.
Again the phrase represents (see notes from “The Sirens Await”) the moment when speech ends and listening begins. A new meaning came to me after the death of my brother. The phrase also meant the end of life, the moment when the voice is silenced and all movement ends.
During this section male and female voices repeatedly switch directions with images of slow motion men and women speaking interspersed with stills of angry protests.
Repercussions: The Accident Investigator
In 1976, Congress formed the House Select Committee on Asasination to revisit, in part, the John F. Kennedy asassination, due to a skeptical public casting doubt on Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman. In a monumental reversal of history, evidence was presented in public testimony based on what was believed to be an accidental sound recording of the assasination from a motorcycle policeman’s microphone riding in the presidential motorcade. Acoustical experts examined the recording, recreated and recorded gunshots in Dealey Plaza, and determined by echo analysis that there was a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll providing proof of a conspiracy.
In a moment of poetry, the testimony of Officer McClain, the motorcycle policeman, who flew up from Dallas, caught a cold in the Washington DC winter, was sniffing when he recalled the tragic events of November 22nd, 1963. After hearing the shots that ended the life of John F. Kennedy Officer McClain recalled that all he could remember was “looking up the street and seeing the pigeons fly off from the School Book Depository”, thus becoming a symbolic end to America’s Camelot.
There is little sound movement in this section. Images show the graphs of echo patterns, the Kennedy motorcade and pigeons flying away.
Running time: approximately 40 minutes
Installation with 16 audio speakers and 2 projectors
Below a diagram for Repercussions: Cross Examinations (back 3 speakers not shown)