Once Removed • 2016


“… the ceaseless hissing of people’s iPods stretching like filigree, across the coarse texture of the city noise…”

– Danielle Cascela, En Abime: Listening, Reading, Writing: An Archival Fiction

Once Removed consists of a large ceiling-suspended cloud of “apple style” white earbuds.  The cloud of earbuds is diffusing 8 channels of audio into the installation space, and the cumulative density of their output creates a unique sound- space, both delicate and overwhelming.

The piece is designed with several aesthetic and technical frameworks in mind. On a physical level, the piece functions as a standalone visual/sculptural entity, a strange ghostly remnant of a roomful of strangers in a waiting room, on a metro car, in the street – a reversal of the sonic interiority that much of the modern urban public self-impose. On a sonic level the work represents a unique way of creating and diffusing a sound environment. The model was inspired in part by my own experience making field recordings in the Brazilian Amazon – the jungle soundscape is incredibly powerful and dense and is constituted more often than not by the agglomeration of thousands of tiny discreet sound sources, the buzzing of insects, the chirping of frogs, the stacatto tones of the birds, a dense ceaseless hissing. Here we are presented with a similarly dense environment but the clickings and tones are emanating from the familiar white appendages that otherwise innocuously inhabit our ear canals.

Once Removed is a piece about listening, about the experience of listening in the immediate sense, and about the contextual framework that surrounds the act of listening in a highly technologised environment. It is equally a piece that re-imagines the notion of ‘field recording’, transposing not just a static rendering of a sound environment but actually transposing and transfiguring the environment itself. The combination of the structural design, the interactivity, and the multi-dimensional microsound environment converge to create a unique experience, one imbued with both wonder and dread, fitting of a rumination on our predicament in an age of digital mediation.

David Drury, Montreal, March 2016