In call, the relationship between seeing and hearing is shifted back and forth. The sound is based on a magnetic call/song/chant, co-selected with vocalist Maryem Hassan Tollar, who sings in Arabic vocal traditions. The distant vocalization, occurring in a cavernous space, beckons the visitor toward the single sound source (a speaker at the opposite end of the space). However, upon approach, the voice seems to recede rather than become more audible. Motion sensors trigger a graduated volume decrease as the visitor approaches the sound source. Instead of providing clarification, the sound becomes increasingly remote; expectations of intimacy, resolution and full audio delivery are thwarted and the voice stays just out of reach. The psychological effect is one of frustration and discombobulation, but one is also left with the desire to follow the call to grasp its source and meaning. It is often in the frustration of our efforts that those efforts are doubled and our attention is arrested.



excerpt of call

media: power amp speaker, video camera, computer, fabric, halogen lights
dimension: 1000 square feet
audio duration: 04:18 min. looped

vocals: Maryem Hassan Tollar
sound engineering: Jeff Mann, Greg Woodbury


Commissioned by Charles Street Video and Toronto International Video Art Biennial for “Screams/Whispers,” Tranz <–> Tech 2001 Media Arts Festival.