For millenia, human civilization has tasked geological materials with the work of holding and sharing cultural data.
From the ancient Tibetan caves in which our human ancestors left the first indexes of handprints and records of their hunting practices to the Hellenistic marble sculptures depicting action scenes of ancient myths, we have embedded meaning into materials, manipulating the contents of the natural world to take on the shape of our ideas, our desires, our fears and the things that bring us pleasure.
Marble is often used to depict static representations of posing forms that are perpetually suspended in a single frame – a single frame that is just one within a continuum of performative action. Even the most exquisite Hellenistic action sculptures that attempted to depict motion (Bernini’s sculpture of David just before casting a stone to defeat Goliath, Laocoon and His Sons being attacked by sea serpents) still rely on the viewer’s understanding of motion and speed to complete the motions depicted in their own imagination.
I am interested in asking marble to do the work of holding and framing performance that allows the performance to exist in its entirety and also in a way that can be distributed and accessed in a more utilitarian way. As opposed to taking up the scale of a monument or something that a viewer should approach primarily through vision, I am asking how I can use this material to house and frame something dynamic and performative.
How can marble hold or frame sound?
Using Robert Morris’ 1961 work Box with the Sound of it’s Own Making as a point of departure, I produced an editioned sound work comprising a functional marble cassette tape containing an original sound work made from high resolution field recordings taken during my immersion in the varying production processes (from quarry to finishing labs) associated with creating the marble housing of the cassette.
Cast marble cassette, magnetic tape, stereo audio with manipulated field recordings taken from Henraux Foundation quarry, Querceta, Italy