Noxious Sector Projects
312 S. Washington St.
Seattle WA 98104

Cara-Ann Simpson

Resonations #1: cyclic glass

There is a Greek legend of a nymph named Echo who was punished by the goddess Hera for consorting with her husband Zeus. Hera stripped Echo of the ability to speak for herself, taking away her voice. From that time on Echo was only ever able to repeat the sounds made by others, reflecting words and songs and sounds back to the world around her.

If imitation is the best form of flattery, one must imagine that Echo would seem a truly charming individual, her repetitions of worldly sounds complimenting those she encounters. Rather than depriving her of an ability to communicate, the strangeness of Hera's punishment is that it makes Echo even more endearing, repeating what she hears as if to attentively demonstrate that she has understood. It's the first step in active listening, according to some psychologists -- a good listener will repeat what they hear, affirming the voices of others. It's a touching story, the collaborative art of listening is the guarantee that Echo will never be fully alone.

It's a also proposition explored by Cara-Ann Simpson's installation Resonations #1. On one side of the window is a speaker, on the other side a contact microphone -- a special type of microphone that responds to touch rather than sound. Tap the window, tickle the surface and you'll find the sounds repeated and amplified. It's almost as though the interaction brings the window to life -- a technological voicebox rigged to exactly let the window speak its mind. Or, more literally, the sounds of the installation are precisely those of the ways in which the window has been touched by the world around it -- as though the dream of any active listener is to have somebody touch them back.

Curiously however, when the window speaks it also hears itself. An echoed feedback loops occurs, the strange resonant harmonies of Echo talking to herself, a nymph's voice brought back from legend to collaborate with the sounds of the Seattle streets.