The Ambient Performance of Quiet Spaces is a site-specific exploration of experience at the border of perception and imagination. It was set in Washington DC’s McKinley Theater in the Carnegie Library and performed continually between 8pm-3am. The Carnegie Library, the first public library in Washington, was decommissioned in the late 70’s and it is now a performance and event venue.
In this work, the shared physical, public space of the library is reconfigured so that its new visitors: the audience, robotic cameras and performers are equally engaged in moments of private and public reflection. The form of the work is the active transposition of subject and object and of content and meaning between these three constituencies. This process of transposition is a reference to contemporary digital culture’s ongoing assimilation of earlier cultural forms.
Working with performer Nick Horan, we each took turns on stage, quietly reading and at times engaging with the installation. Two PTZ IP cameras were programed to scan the stage, the audience and each other, similarly pondering their environment. The resulting images were projected onto the screen behind the stage. A soundtrack composed of ambient sounds from existing public libraries, recordings of the preparation of the materials for the installation and ambient sounds from recent installations played quietly throughout the performances.
The Ambient Performance of Quiet Spaces featured an installation of various materials on the stage of the theater that included: card catalog cards, *prepared books (with tape, acetate, LEDs/electronics/code), cables, computers, projectors and IP cameras.
*prepared books included:
> James Joyce’s Ulysses containing excerpts from Emmanuel Levinas’ Totality and Infinity
> John Beecroft’s Kipling: A Selection of His Stories and Poems containing card catalog cards for books related to technology and its impact on the library system
> John B. Noss’ Man’s Religions
> Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being