For my first two years of college, I was a student in an intense pre-medicine program. It was in this culture that I learned to be a college student, and I quickly learned to focus only on myself. I realized that I should be constantly absorbed in my own work and that if I let my surroundings distract me, I probably would not be performing at the same level as my peers. Or so I thought. I learned to ignore what was around me to better focus on the task at hand. After I left this world to study music, I maintained my lifestyle of shutting out my surroundings. However, I gradually came to realize this a negative habit many of us have that honestly makes us less human. When we ignore what is around us we ignore the way we relate to the world and each other. It is important to step outside of our tiny personal worlds and remember we are sharing a space with so many others – not just at this moment but also moments past and moments to come. We are part of something greater.
At Carnegie Mellon University in the College of Fine Arts building, I see many people with the same complex that I often suffer. This is odd considering that the space we walk around in every day is actually incredible. The building is beautifully constructed and maintained, and presents a beautiful mix of old and new. The events that take place here on a day-to-day basis are important and relevant in a variety of ways. Yet so many of us charge through the building from point A to point B without stopping to consider even one of the infinite points that exist between the starts and ends of our journeys. I see people lost in their own heads, not realizing the significant events that are happening, have happened, and will happen around them. This has inspired me to create a non-invasive installation that gives people in the CFA building an opportunity to view their surroundings from a different lens. I wanted it to be something that could be experienced individually or in a group, as both settings are impactful in their own ways.
And so the idea for my (as of now untitled) site-specific project was born. The piece consists of a playlist of tracks that can be downloaded by scanning a QR code at the entrance of the CFA building. The audio consists of spoken directions and sound collages using sounds that are only recorded within the space of the building itself. The work is split into tracks rather than being one continuous piece to allow for differences in travel time. The piece leads the listener on a walk throughout the entire building, through a spectrum of noise and silence. The listener will be able to experience past and present sounds simultaneously through the work and thus gain a new perspective on the space. The piece is designed to be flexible and allow the listener to set the time of day in which it is experienced, the pace in which it is experienced, and with whom the experience occurs. Also, those not actively participating in the walk will not be interrupted by anyone who is. My goal is to create an opportunity for people like myself who sometimes need guidance in acknowledging and understanding their surroundings. If even just one person experiences the work and finds him or herself more able to stop and truly listen to the world around him or her, then I have succeeded.