In the moment of disaster, the old order no longer exists and people improvise rescues, shelters, and communities. Thereafter, a struggle takes place over whether the old order with all its shortcomings and injustices will be reimposed or a new one, perhaps more oppressive or perhaps more just and free, like a disaster utopia, will arise.
– Rebecca Solnit from A Paradise Built in Hell
2020 is a tectonic shift, a rapidly changing reality of intertwined symbiotic cause and effect events. The precarity of life, health and care, ignored for so long by those wielding political power, are catalyzed front and center by the pandemic. As the fascist U.S government rants about antifascists and calls to sacrifice whole communities to “the economy” — the distinction between those wearing masks and those who refuse echo within all areas of existence.
A phone call and I am outside. Handing over a paper bag with shields to Tom who is wearing a respirator. Tom and I had never met until that very moment. He is one of over 30 people who came together to make and deliver protective face shields to essential workers.
For two months the soundtrack for many of us was the overlapping howling of sirens on the streets. Each siren — a life, tied to multiple lives trying to save it.
The sound piece presented here is a full cycle of 3D printers printing frames for protective shields. Four 3D printers printed shield frames for two months 24/7 to meet the immediate need for personal protective equipment in New York; and as time progressed, other states and countries. The continuous chorus of 3D printing frames for protective shields became a song I would hum as I lived with the never ending cycle of rapid prototyping for a rapidly spreading emergency. It became a second layer for the ambulance soundtrack during my time in lockdown. The full cycle lasts just over 5 hours and results in frames for shields donated to essential workers during the height (at the time of writing this on June 14, 2020) of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An invisible transmission of vibrations from matter to matter is present in my installations. Permeating objects, vibrations are amplified and modulate the sound differently depending on the object’s materiality; as does the virus — transmitting through proximity, amplifying, growing and affecting each body differently, depending on their materiality, on their history and prior interaction with the world.
The intangible mutates… altering tangible objects, creating presence, effecting change with an invisible force.