Hum, 2014, Wall-mounted rotary phone, sound equipment, 5 ½ x 9 ½ in
Hum is a response to a prompt by artist Hannah Weinberger and forms part of Do-it, an open-ended exhibition format based on a series of “scores”, or written instructions by artists, as a point of departure. Weinberger’s instructions included a list of onomatopoeias that had to be incorporated into a work in some shape or form. In Hum I read out Weinberger’s list of words in a dull, monotonous voice, potentially belonging to a fictitious official, much like the character of Gerd Wiesler in the movie The Lives of the Others, the Stasi officer who is assigned to spy on playwright Georg Dreyman and initially reports on the events in Dreyman’s daily life in an emotionless, dutiful voice. While I begin by reading out Weinberger’s list of words in a clear and well pronounced manner, I continue to layer words using an audio software program until they turn into an unintelligible, abstract, non-linear soundscape. The viewer can listen to and interact with this audio piece upon lifting the receiver of a 1970s wall-mounted telephone installed in the exhibition space. Hum is part of an on-going investigation into language as a system through which ideologies can be established, perpetuated, as well as undermined.