Re: Re:

2014

'Re:' is a collection of work by artist Samantha Y Huang. Her work involves repurposing second-hand books to discover new forms through which they can express another, perhaps hidden, nature. As part of the Art:Language:Location (A:L:L) festival in Cambridge for 2014 I collaborated with Huang and worked a piece of audio in response to her book installation in the back staircase of Cambridge Waterstone's.

The audio piece, titled 'Re: Re:', is built almost entirely from samples made on site as Huang worked. As she cut the pages I recorded the sounds of scissors through paper. As she nailed them to the walls I recorded the sounds of the hammer echoing through the space.

 

Also recorded were the sounds created by the physical surroundings of the installation. The walls, the steps, the railing and handrail that ran up and down all became part of the collection of samples that would go towards creating the piece for this collaboration.

 

An edited clip from the original (20minute) Re: Re: piece 

In conversation with Huang we talked about her approach to installing this specific work in large scale locations, and how the placement of the books ends up leaving an organic feel to them. Almost as if the books were growing. At times they look like moths, at times they look like mushrooms sprouting through cracks within the walls. Soon the viewer forgets that they are books altogether. The installation also begins to connect to itself across space. A few books that first seemed isolated up in a corner soon connect visually as the viewer begins to trace lines through the space 3-dimensionally.

 

I wanted the audio to echo and enhance this. And so I set out to create a piece of music that over time moves from seeming randomness to complete synchronicity.

 

At first, the sounds start out random; almost as if Huang is still in the space hammering the books to the walls. All the sounds are random, starting and stopping with no distinct pattern. Then, the space itself echoes back and the installation is filled with a variety of sounds - of railings, of nails, of pages turning. Over gradual time the piece finds its balance as various elements start to line up. Hammering falls into rhythm, page turns begin to create a beat, sounds of screws and page tears start to feel as if they are being conducted and an orchestra is suddenly made of books, hammers, iron, and paper, all of which leads to a crescendo that ends just as inexplicably as it started.

 

The composition was installed at the top of the staircase, outside the staff office, projecting down into the building. The piece was set to play at set intervals. A maximum of 3 times on selected days between the A:L:L festival, 15th Oct - 2nd Nov 2014.

The length of the full composition from start to finish is 19minutes 24seconds.

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 © 2019 Amit Rai Sharma