Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Working with the material

JÅW Member Thomas Watkiss performing their work at Boeddeker Park on Saturday, Oct 17, 2009. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009


One can get a greater understanding of a place by its small business community. By focusing on immigrant-run places of business in the Tenderloin, we set out to provide a closer understanding of the daily process of trade and transaction at the fundamental level. As we know, the Tenderloin is home to an wide diversity of cultures who come to America to earn a sense of identity within our Free Market process. Fruit stands, food vendors, niche ethnic boutiques, dry cleaning services--things affluent societies such as ours take for granted while the new Americans that operate the businesses are over-looked and highly under-appreciated. Remix: Market Culture/ Language of Place sets out to have the visitor to the exhibition experience the sound of common immigrant business as something beautiful and profound, while being allowed an intimate exposure to the diversity of communities within the Tenderloin.

In the State of California alone it is estimated that small, immigrant operated businesses make up for roughly 45% or the state revenue. In 2006, when immigrant workers staged a strike in Los Angeles, almost all general services came to a halt for one day and revenue loses were roughly estimated in the hundreds of millions. Based on this, there is no question on the impact of immigrant business. Basing our piece in the Tenderloin with its diverse concentration of foreign-born groups, we set out to capture fragments of cultural dialogue that build the immigrant marketplace. We are choosing select, unadvertised locations of the Tenderloin to gather daily transactions, small conversations and the different sound of languages to be remixed for a new perspective to the visitor of the exhibition. We set out to demonstrate a select thread of commonality, cultural semantics and innuendos that may exist within approaches to small enterprise. In a way, we are displaying the nature of small business of the Tenderloin as key in understanding the greater formation of American culture for an international audience.

We as practitioners working with sound feel that the medium is the most accurate way to communicate information to our audience. Fundamentally, it is easy for one to turn an eye when confronted with subjective imagery, but with sound it is possible for the listener to create their own picture to freely make their own associations and conclusions. In this situation, we are developing the sound piece as it is the most intimate way to provide the listener access to environments, rhythms and routines of the daily immigrant dilemma. We are not interested in shining an uncomfortable spotlight on the tough situations of workers, but to provide a communication-level platform for the visitor to experience and to walk-away with a closer understanding of those who make up the building blocks of our society.

Seeing the struggle of new immigrant groups is touching for us as we are understanding the individuals and seeing that even in a downturn economy, there is a sense of determination, personal trust and giving that is not represented in the suffering commercial world. We also notice that the people who immigrate to the Tenderloin work there and live there which creates a closer sense of community and a more honest sense of place. In New York City for example, it becomes apparent that the places where people work, are not the places where people live, and where people live one begins to see how segregated the city truly is. In the Tenderloin one can also see how the immigrant groups move in, move up and move on. Our piece is capturing a moment of this evolution. For the duration of the exhibition, the result of our work will be made accessible as such:

The Installation:
- A listening station (seating, headphones and a CD player) will be set up in the Evergold Gallery.
- Visitors are encouraged to listen to at least 15 minutes of the sound on the headphones.
- A set of writing utensils and 4 x 6 cards will be set out for the person listening to the piece.
- They will be encouraged to write down words or phrases that come to mind while listening to the recording.
- There will be a wall to place the cards with their thoughts and impressions.
- As more words and phrases are on the wall, visitors will be encouraged to move around the cards to create new dialogues and phrases (like word magnets on a refrigerator).
- Images will be taken weekly to capture the changing dialogues and evolving interactivity that visitors leave on the wall.

The Live Show:
As live performers, we want to demonstrate the work with a live mix of the piece, similar to what one could hear in the installation. In this, we want to captivate the audience and allow a second level of interest to the content, development and construction of the piece.