Part of the Hood Museum’s exhibit Resonant Spaces: Sound Art at Dartmouth in the Sherman Art Library Reference Room
Building on the qualities and expectations of the library, Swartz created three listening objects that resemble books in scale, weight, and location. They are meant to be held and listened to by one person at a time, and this one-on-one relationship dictates the objects’ form and function. The sound is a private, singular experience that echoes the act of reading. Please pick up the objects (one at a time) and listen to them.
Each object transmits a short piece of specific text. Swartz transcribed each text and spoke it aloud at the rate of transcription, trying to release the words vocally only as she wrote them. So the pen rushed to catch up with her voice and her voice slowed to stay in time with the pen in order to “absorb” the texts more slowly. She recorded both the sound of her voice and the writing simultaneously on different tracks so she could mix them together in varied combinations.
Swartz chose texts that spoke of the poetic transmission from writer to reader, and of receptivity—that is, the receptivity of listening as akin to the receptive state of reading.
The three texts Swartz used, one for each object, are Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice, by Pauline Oliveros (Deep Listening Publications, 2005); Collected Prose, by Charles Olson (University of California Press, 1997); and The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard (Presses Universitaires de France, 1958).
Transfer (objects) asks us to consider the act of reading through the act of listening. It suggests the echo of language in our mind as we read to ourselves, and it reminds us of the other sounds that accompany what we often think of as a silent act. As such, it questions how we receive information and develop knowledge and wisdom in an increasingly complex and noisy world.
This exhibit is part of the larger Hood Museum exhibit. Small installations can be seen throughout the Dartmouth Campus:
Hood Downtown: Terry Adkins and Jess Rowland
Cummings Hall: Laura Mae
Sherman Art Library: Julianne Swartz
Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center: Bill Fontana
Sherman Fairchild Physical Sciences Center: Jacob Kirkegaard
Bema Amphitheater: Alvin Lucier
Strauss Gallery at the Hopkins Center for the Arts: Christine Sun Kim
This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, and generously supported by the George O. Southwick 1957 Memorial Fund, the Eleanor Smith Fund, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Danish Arts Foundation.