british soldier lichen, shingles, bricks, mirrors, speakers, lightbulbs, sound, light
10″ x 19″
sound in space, martin art gallery, muhlenberg colleg, allentown, pennsylvania
Rain on the roof above my bedroom is one of my earliest memories, and is certainly my earliest memory of a sound to which I could put a name. My childhood home, in the rural town of Poestenkill, NY, was a typical New England Salt Box style reconstruction. Salt Box homes came to prominence in the 18th century; the roof is asymmetrical and consists of a short front roof with a steep pitch and a long back roof whose slope is gentler. It is this back roof that formed the ceiling to my bedroom, and the gentle taps of the rain on the cedar shingles would mesmerize me in and out of sleep at night. Construction of our home was finished when I was five and the roof and chimney were updated for the first time only recently. The bricks in this installation were leftover from the old chimney and the shingles are from the roof.
Twenty-nine years of acid rain had turned shingles that were once half an inch thick into delicate, pockmarked topographies that (in my mind) had transformed the rain into a form of handwriting or script, like the groove of a record or the chicken scratch of a doctor. The installation’s sound component consists of rain recorded from my childhood home, mixed with recordings of rain from every house (or apartment) that I’ve lived since. When you walk in the room, the sound of rain appears as though hovering a foot off the floor, an effect achieved using a combination of speaker placement below the shingles and filtering of the audio in the way the ear’s pinna does to perceive sounds coming from below. When the viewer tries to see the reflection in one of the mirrors beneath a shingle, the head is in a position to hear the rain now as saturating and immersive. I love how you cannot quite tell where the individual drops drip when it’s raining, and how a room can sing in resonance when a strong rain beats on the roof like a drum roll. When it rains, I like to imagine myself above the roof, completely dry, listening to the drips… the roof translucent and glowing with the warm light of the indoors.