Room Tone, 2007

Collaboration with Chris Kubick 4 channel sound installation with drawings

Commissioned by Artists space, NY. Subsequent installations at Rhinecliff Amtrak Station/Bard College and Walter Phillips gallery, Banff Centre for the Arts

A room tone is a recorded element of sound design, often employed in the movie industry, to impress the sonic ambience of a depicted environment. It is the sound of “silence” in a room, though never quite silent as each room tone is inflected by different characteristics such as sonic reflections bouncing off physical architecture, the absorptive presence of bodies, and other kinds of technology present (i.e., the subtle hum of air-handling systems and lights). Room Tone is run by a computer program that generates sounds drawn from a database of approximately 1,000 room tones through four separate channels. The program may layer, cut up, and combine these room tones, varying in duration and volume, to create a new, dynamic, and visceral room tone for any particular space. Constantly changing and evolving, the aural experience of Room Tone humorously plays with the oft-cited adage of John Cage: “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”