The conception of this work came from a need to satisfy my inclusion in the Bachelor of Fine Arts 2nd year gallery show at the end of the academic year. The space allotted to the 2nd year students was the D300 gallery located within the CalArts main building. The gallery, while being one of the larger on campus, presented what would be a complication as the number of 2nd year students was nearly twenty-five, many planning to show more than one piece, and each desiring equally proportionate wall space, a request that would have meant that each artist would have received roughly 4 feet horizontally. Due to the fact that initially no one had a desire to use any floor space, I took this as a primary negotiation that would involve the work with considering my contribution to the space.
I decided that to provide more distance between works on the wall, and more space for those using it, would help to ease the impacted situation. I would develop something for the floor space - to fill the room more thoroughly so that upon entering the gallery the eye would be required to take in a multitude of spatial planes. This would also enact a coming to physical awareness of the space, in moving through it and around objects that would bring a type of containment to the gallery, something that work on the walls would not thoroughly do alone. This was a necessity in deciding and considering the floor as an option. Utilizing the floor simultaneously expanded the space and contained it in opening the distance between wall works to lessen a cramped feeling and likewise provided an introduction through a fluctuation in a visual assessment of the show as a whole.
Prior to this, I had a notion to show, by some form, the constant shift of the gallery spaces within the school. The particular possibilities of this survey show enabled me the chance to unfold this concept as the basis of the work.
The galleries of CalArts consist of 8 spaces, 7 of which the School of Art maintains and the other that is a student run space. The duration of a given show in a gallery is a timeframe of one week to accommodate the number of MFA presentations, solo shows from upper level undergrads, and various other student exhibitions on the calendar established early on in the academic calendar. This quick turnaround determines the amount of work up in a given month is in some 36 different shows. The observation, which I elaborated on here, was to reinstall a previous show in some way so that not only would the rapid exchange of shows be addressed, but also allow a provisional chance to be given to a previously installed work to enable revisitation to the space a second time in a different light, after an interim in which it had gone through a colloquial shift, becoming something of a memory of itself.
The way in which I was able to realize this was through turning to another ongoing inquiry I was collaborating on at the time. The "Radio" Show was a weekly radio program that was organized and run by Nattan Hollander and myself on the campus radio station. The portion of radio program which turned into the content of this group show contribution came from the second week in the station weeks earlier in the term. The entirety of the broadcast consisted of a phone conversation between Nattan, located in the on-campus galleries, and myself, in the radio station located on a separate floor of the building. Our conversation consisted of questions and responses as to the arrangement of the galleries, the artwork within them, and anything else pertinent to the shows installed that week. To prepare myself for the midweek broadcast, I made sure that prior to the conversation I would restrain myself from viewing the work on display. This was to assure that I held no perception of what the contents of the conversation would consist in, enabling me to ask questions which would direct me as closely to the work as possible without seeing beyond mental images I was constructing with Nattan's descriptive observations. As I was already quite familiar with the gallery spaces in terms of scale and architectural features, the mental images were not coming from a completely blindspot, something that provided Nattan some room in his assessments of layout and measurement of the rooms. It was in what had been incorporated into each room for a temporal period which I had no way of seeing myself.
The exhibitions open during the evening broadcast included the D300 gallery. The show was the graduate thesis exhibition from Nikhil Murthy. His show was entitled "Welcome to Silicon Valley". The physical installtion consisted of two works with each work consisting of two and three television monitors. Two on a table and the three nearer to floor level. Spaced apart in the room, these two grouping of monitors left a great deal of open floor space, which the glow from the screens softly lit. The contents of the video work playing had to do with (1) India in relation to U.S. economy by way of shopping malls and the computer industry and (2) the artist being suspected and subsequently interrogated by the FBI for suspicious acts of videography through Homeland Security jurisdiction.
The content of "Welcome to Silicon Valley", while not being intentionally chosen as an example for the premise of the radio broadcast, became an interesting example of what Nattan and I set out to explore as a result of the minimal qualities of the exhibition, something which provided a greater amount of time to question in specificity to the format in relation to the content in this video based work. The conversation in the gallery lasted 45 minutes and 30 seconds and was ended when I felt that I had received a sufficient mental image from Nattan's description and he believed to have addressed all apparent dynamics from a level of semblance.
Upon finding out which gallery space the 2nd year group show would take place in, nearly a month later, I went to the archived recording I had of the radio broadcast and extracted the excerpt from Nikhil's show in the D300 gallery. At the time of the broadcast, the adapter purchased to allow for call-ins, created a problem in both the live broadcast and recording of it. The feed coming into studio, through Nattan's mobile phone as it was recorded, was quite low in volume, so low that any listeners would have had trouble hearing him. To my little knowledge of soundboards at the time, the only option to ammend this imbalance during airtime was to turn up the master volume that was broadcast out to the maximum decibel level so that Nattan could be heard at all. The increase in volume resulted in adding two levels of distortion to the conversation, (1) as initially my voice in studio was going out clearly with the original decibel, the increase of the master volume in turn brought my voice up to a high amplitude, much greater than Nattan's on the other end of the phone and (2) this increase also led to a large amount of white noise and static to glaze the entire conversation with crackling, foregrounded pops. In an attempt to address these aspects upon revisiting the archived broadcast, I imported the excerpt into sound editing software. The first step introduced was an equalization of the gradient levels of sound. The command involved selecting the newly desired maximum level and compressing the rest to that constraint, a command, which I hoped would begin to drop the plateau of my voice and raise Nattan's to a middle ground.
The impact of the applied equalization resulted in added underlayer to the excerpt. In bringing the two voices to a common level the command also brought the layer of foregrounded white noise and static to a revolving hum which had seeped into the conversation and became embedded in it. This first adjustment surprised and intrigued me so much that I decided to stop the editing at this point. The impact of the hum and the inextricable qualities it lent to the conversation seemed to relate, in a way, directly to the notice of a "shift" in the weekly interchanges of exhibitions in the gallery spaces. This blurring led to an audio track which sounded displaced, relating to a previous show in the space through a verbalization of the formal layout and content of the work in "Welcome to Silicon Valley", but a verbalization that was at certain points a great struggle to decipher because of the roam of the hum. Additively, the track of sound I had attempted to "clean" resulted in a smudging of sorts in relation to the origin of the audio, a live broadcast sent into an opened space through a broadcast range not much greater than the walls of the campus itself.
The work, materially, ended up as a set of headphones and a compact disc player sitting in the seat groove of a standard plastic-mold chair found around around campus. The disc player had a power cord connecting it to an electrial outlet. The chair sat roughly 7ft from that western wall on its right and 20ft back from the northern gallery entrance wall. There was roughly 9ft between the chair and the southern back wall. The positioning was decided through the location of where Murthy's work had sat in the space as I wanted the chair to be in a position where his video works could materialize, or be remembered by past or new visitors of the gallery, in the original locations apart and a part from the location of the chair.
The chair was chosen to dually act as a place to sit down in the gallery while listening to the audio excerpt and as a replacement for a pedestal or wall mount, which a compact disc player might sit on top of in a gallery or museum context. This choice was made to have as little unneeded impact structurally as possible to the work as it seemed unnecessary to introduce such a rigid element that would be freestanding in the space. The use of the chair in place of the pedestal was also made so that the large amount of sterility in the work would be lessened by the personal engagement in picking the disc player up, sitting down in the chair, and perhaps resting the device on one's lap while listening as there was no other place to set it once one had sat down. This provided an added relation for the listener with thier own personal engagement, enabling adjustment to the volume, pause, rewind, or restart of the audio track from the beginning as needed. There was an initial idea to project the excerpt through speakers so that it would have filled the entire D300 interior, but in respect to the other participants in the show the headphones provided an added personalizing in the accession of the work audiotorially while my peers work was still visible.
The impact of the chair to the space addressed the concerns I had had about the layout of the show and the inclusion of floor work to bring a level of cohesion and visual gradation to the environment. The height of the chair did not impede on the axis to the work on the walls around it nor did it sit so low that a visitor might stumble into it accidentally. I chose to leave the power cord running from under the chair to the wall exposed so as to bring another component for the visitor in cognizing an awareness of the spatial arrangement of the gallery. This also brought a formal connection of the floor work to that on the walls in requiring an outlet to serve as the source for my work to run continually, aligned to the confinement the gallery space offers.
The work not only provided the possibility of a second glimpse of "Welcome to Silicon Valley" in the space, but also required an active and attentive imagination to enable a recreation of its arrangement to "manifest". This was challenged by the works that were a part of the group show already installed in the space, already in the visual plane of the visitor listening to the conversation through headphones. The hum which came through the editing process became an accepted integral component to the project as it enabled a derivation from the live broadcast itself on the radio from what was heard in the gallery, given as a way to jog a memory and recognize a shift.