New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 1992
For “The Spatial Drive”
TEMPEST was a sound piece site-specific to the New Museum space. One year prior to the beginning of the exhibition, a sound technician was hired to record the ambient sounds of the city from the top floor of the New Museum building. This floor was derelict, with broken out windows, so the weather rushed into the building from all sides. The instructions were to collect recordings of extreme weather conditions, heat and cold, wind, rain and snow. Also the recordist collected the sound of the HVAC system of the New Museum, in heating and cooling mode. Cassette tapes were made. One side held the weather sound, the other the sound of the responding HVAC condition, that is, if the weather were cold, then the HVAC sound was of the heating mode.
Lamps (blue) and speakers were placed above the air handling ducts in the space. Also speakers were installed in the steam ducting at the sidewalk, outside the building and a blue lamp was installed over the front window/gallery space. Guards would choose the tape to play for the day. Tapes were played through an auto reverse cassette deck. A digital sound/lamp fader allowed the presence of the sounds to be made in the space quite suddenly, but then would take many minutes to fade. During this time the sound gently was absorbed into the ambient HVAC sounds in the space. Inside one might be startled by the sharp sound of thurnder. Outside, one might hear, mixed with traffic, rain on a cold fall day, or the sound of the the heating system, rumbling as one walked by or stood by the window. At night, the blue light rose and faded continually in the vaulted space described by a half round window. TEMPEST linked the idea of weather with the internal environment and described circumspectly, its recipricality that described its temporality by sudden, natural/un-natural presence.