Ex Teresa

Site specific installation and performance for Ninth International Performance Festival, Ex Teresa, Mexico City, 2001

For the installation Ex Teresa, I built six large hanging sculptures, which created real time projected images of the sound made by viewers who entered the exhibition space. These projections lined the 30 foot walls of the former church where the exhibition was held. The sculptures were assembled using materials which had been confiscated from black market vendors. The sculptures were built on the basic principle of an oscilloscope. A microphone in the clerestory of the church picked up the echoing chatter from the acoustics of the space, and was translated into a set of customized sub woofer speakers that were hanging from the nave ceiling. These speakers were used to amplify the vibrations, which in turn carried the motion of the sound wave through thin 10 foot long brass dowels affixed to the speaker cones. Each vibrating brass dowel was illuminated by projectors made from antique bicycle headlights. The beam of projected light reflected off the motion of the brass dowels, creating a 2 foot by 6 foot projection of lissajous – complex harmonic motions that can be traced mechanically to form three dimensional images of sound. This interaction of audience and space filled the room with lines, loops, and explosions of light and sound.

This piece took place at Ex Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City, a former convent that has permently shifted on a 45-degree axis because of its proximity Mexico City’s large earthquakes.The materials for this project were generously donated through a program which enabled museum-sponsored artists to make use of confiscated black market goods that were sold on the streets surrounding the building that house the installation itself. It was through this program that I collected the bicycle headlamps, brass dowels, microphone, subwoofers, and PA, to construct the piece. At the time, I lived near the convent, in the city center, and observed an operatic relationship between the city police officers dressed in riot gear and ambulant street vendors with their intricate systems of alarms and elegant breakdown techniques. There was a complex rhythm to this daily performance that appeared almost symphonic. I wanted to create an installation to capture the visual interpretation and intermezzo of the sounds that made up the city itself. The performance depended on shifting variables: the space, and how sound and light affect the space. I wanted to turn a chattering audience into an element of the live performance itself, relying on the concept that what would fill the room sonically could simultaneously fill the room visually.