stylus | 2010-2011
Shahrokh Yadegari, Composer/Sound Designer
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
St. Louis, Missouri
July 9, 2010-January 22, 2011
Materials: 2 player pianos; 26 channel speaker and sound system; fabric; 5 rolling ladders; 5 spinning projector mechanisms; steel table with moveable, amplified surface; steel ball bearings; 1500 paper hands; custom shelving unit; taxidermic birds; jumping beans; 2 record players; records and books from St. Louis Public School Archives; 5 rooftop mounted speakers; video; sound; light
For an in-depth look at stylus, please see the project website here.
If the call is the origin of speech, then the hand—raised to touch, or signal at a distance—is its silent counterpart. The relationship between these two gestures, one silent and one sounded, provides the structure for Ann Hamilton's project, stylus. Following a long-term interest in voice and uttered sound and the capacity of the hand in an ever progressing technological landscape, this project, responds to the Pulitzer's mission to be both sanctuary and laboratory and is comprised of multiple forms of call and response between a contemplative interior of reflection and an exterior world of projection.
Varied haunting presences and traces of human gesture and voice comprise stylus; the project waits in simultaneous states of expectancy and remembrance, making possible both the idea of gatherings to come and the histories of those that have passed. Video projections of contact, between two hands, between a pencil and paper, and between the eye of the camera and the news, sweep across the space in an elliptical orbit, shifting scale as they meet the interior of the architecture from the top of rolling stair ladders.
Original compositions by the project's sound designer, Shahrokh Yadegari swell through the 23 channel sound system integrating the grain of voice and the vibration of contact into a spatialized and felt experience. The visitor's voice and touch translate to the live sound of two player pianos. Five speakers mounted on the Pulitzer's roof play to the sky – or play back to the neighborhood - sound recordings from an archive of calls contributed by phone. Images of hands stilled in the gesture of waving are printed and posted around St. Louis.
Line by line, a printed concordance draws from and re-contextualizes the world's news. Records play from the archives of the St. Louis Public School, and books from the St Louis Public Library system await their readers. Multiple disused shells of cast paper hands appear as props for congregations yet to gather.
And, among these many materials, technologies and mediums that comprise stylus, a table of thousands of Mexican Jumping Beans speaks the essence of the piece. Their solitary movements inside the cavities of their individual encasements together project chorused rustlings, unseen gesture sounded and amplified in response to the warmth of light. Their "call," a horizon above the now mute sound of the birds gathered below.
For a full illustrated floorplan of stylus, click here.
Photo credit: TOKY Branding + Design / Geoff Story / Jenny Fine
Special thanks to:
· Seda-Reeder, Maria. "The Process of Reading Becomes an Act of Creation." http://www.aeqai.com (November 2010).
· Wilson, Calvin. "Pulitzer space shares billing in new exhibit." http://www.stltoday.com (July 18, 2010).
· "Ann Hamilton: Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts." Artforum (January 2011).