Transfer (objects), 2017

Wood, electronics, soundtrack.
Site specific installation, Sherman Art library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, for the exhibition Resonant Spaces: Sound Art at Dartmouth, curated by Spencer Topal and Amelia B. Kahl.

Text by Amelia Kahl, Associate Curator of Academic Programming, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College:

Please pick up the objects (one at a time) and listen to them. Building on the qualities and expectations of the library, Swartz created three listening objects that resemble books in scale, weight, and location. They are meant to be held and listened to by one person at a time, and this one-on-one relationship dictates the objects’ form and function. The sound is a private, singular experience that echoes the act of reading.

Each object transmits a short piece of specific text. Each text is transcribed three times: first, in the act of writing the text (the sound of pen on paper); second, as an audible vibration of a voice speaking the text, where the words are not discernible—just the vibrations and tones of the words; and third, as the text read aloud. These recordings layer upon one another in time as one listens to the object.

The three texts Swartz used, one for each object, are: Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice by Pauline Oliveros (Deep Listening Publications, 2005), Collected Prose by Charles Olson (University of California Press, 1997), and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (Presses Universitaires de France, 1958).

Transfer.(objects) asks us to consider the act of reading through the act of listening. It suggests the echo of language in our mind as we read to ourselves, and reminds us of the other sounds that accompany what we often think of as a silent act. As such, it questions how we receive information and develop knowledge and wisdom in an increasingly complex and noisy world.

This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, and generously supported by the George O. Southwick 1957 Memorial Fund, the Eleanor Smith Fund, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Danish Arts Foundation.