coming to unconsciousness 2010
Sound installation for the shaft that runs parallel to the stairwell in the Maxon Mills space of the Wassaic Project. coming to unconsciousness used pre-recorded audio played back in the shaftway, an aural historical supplement and means of sonically locating the listener in the barn as they physically walk up and down the stairs. This fragmented audio recording unfolded through it’s duration between meaningful and understandable to ambient and difficult to comprehend, acting as a metaphor for dynamic historical revision.
The shaftway runs through most of the floors of the building and is parallel to the stairway, a means to get from floor to floor of the space. The shaftway is not a space that can be physically entered or moved through. Sound can travel through spaces that we cannot.
In the Wappinger First Nation langauge, the name Washaic means “land of difficult access.” This can be understood as both as access to physical space and to meaning. Historic spaces usually ask the visitor to read or research their history, to supplement the actual experience of a space with documentation that seems disconnected from the experience. The narrative associated with the space’s previous use is not always perceptible during the visitor’s physical experience of it.
coming to unconsciousness supplemented the immediate physical experience of Maxon Mills by offering access to an historical narrative from different perspectives: a composition of different audio references for historical moments of the area that may or may not be meaningful for the listener (the Wappinger Nation, now displaced; the Harlem railroad, one of the first to run from an urban center; Eagle Brand’s condensed milk, a forerunner to industrialization in agriculture; etc.) The sample here includes recordings of steam engines, Algonquin native speakers and advertisements for Eagle Brand condensed milk, all significant historical markers for Dutchess county. As the listener moved up and down the stairwell, they were played back sound to augment their understanding of their location.