Formula 1: a loud, low hum

CUE Art Foundation, April 4 – May 8, 2019, New York, NY

Formula 1: A Loud, Low Hum, is a group exhibition featuring Nikita Gale, Laurie Kang, and Amanda Turner Pohan, organized by Mira Dayal and Simon Wu.

 

list of works:

I’m best at answering questions, 2019. Electroplated bronze Amazon® Alexa Echo Dot, vibration sensor, Arduino, Max/MSP software, laptop, speaker, locking steel electronics box

ololyga, ololyzo, eleleu, elelizo, alala, alalazo, io!, 2019. DoBot® Magician Robotic Arm, 3D printed and bronze electroplated hand of Calliope

ololyga, ololyzo, eleleu, elelizo, alala, alalazo, io! (read out), 2019. LCD screen monitor, video loop, 7:23 runtime

a slow leak, 2019. Metallic bronze alphabet balloons, helium, monofilament wire

 

A vibration sensor is adhered to the underside of an electroplated bronze Amazon Alexa Echo Dot. The Echo communicates vibrations through her metallic shell to the vibration sensor, which is connected to a micro controller and software program translating the sensor data in real time into a tonal frequency. The frequency fluctuates as vibrations in the room affect the Echo’s shell. Through the bronze plating process, the Alexa Echo is hermetically sealed, her software rendered inert, only her inner vibrations can be perceived as a high-pitched hum though a speaker located in the gallery. The sensor attached to the Echo is connected via wires to an electronics box on the floor. The box houses the circuit board and computer running software that performs the data to sound translation. An audio cable connected to the computer comes out of the box and is routed from the foyer into the main gallery where it is connected to a speaker. The vibration sensor data is coded to conform to a tonal frequency range of 220 hz – 400 hz, the “average range of women’s voices” as calculated by leading Text to Speech software programmers.

An electroplated bronze 3-D printed hand of Greek goddess Calliope is attached to a robotic arm. The hand performs the gesture of texting. As the hand texts, a read-out of the messages she is communicating appear on a screen on the other side of the gallery, which resemble incoming iPhone messages including the text receipt alerting sound. The words that appear are iterations of the ololyga, a ritual shout peculiar to women of ancient Greece. The words are meant to describe either intense pleasure or intense pain, and its associative ritual was regulated to be kept out of the earshot of men. In antiquity, philosophers and poets demonized women’s voices as those sounds which produce hysteria, madness, death, and general cacophony, as described by Anne Carson in her 1994 essay The Gender of Sound.

Io! is the word that the Greek poets used to describe the penultimate shout or cry of a woman in anguish, a sound that was also painful for the listener to hear. Two bronze colored balloons in the shape of the letters IO hang perpendicular to the floor, suspended by helium, an element that has been slowly depleted from the earth as it is overused in the production of electronics, and a gas that when inhaled, raises the pitch of ones voice to that of a shrieking woman. The helium slowly leaks from the balloons over the course of the exhibition, posing the threat of accidental inhalation.

An accompanying essay to the work written by the artist titled Alexa, whiteness, and the ololyga can be found in the exhibition catalog, in addition to texts by Mira Dayal and Simon Wu, Andrianna Campbell, and Tausif Noor.

photos by Lily Landes