Paul Catanese, Hybrid Media Artist

2004 | Online, Browser-Based Artwork

Collective Geology of the Erased Space
Collective Geology of the Erased Space is a 2004 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (a.k.a. Ether-Ore) for its web site. It was made possible with funding from a generous grant by the National Endowment for the Arts.
About this work
Viewers are presented with an imaginary geological strata imbued with many sounds: fragments of conversations, recollections, errant noises and pregnant silences presented as if the memory of communication had been imparted on the strata in some way. Stretched thin like the surface of a balloon underneath the razor sharp cursor, the sounds whistle like a fingernail across the surface of a drum-head.

Over a period of several years, I began collecting the sounds that you will find imbued within this work. Aside from the background score, all of the sounds that you hear in this piece were found on analog cassette tapes in assorted thrift stores, resale shops and junkyards. Recordings of eulogies, hospital to ambulance relay
tapes, phone conversations, retirement parties as well as recordings made by individuals left stranded in nursing homes are among the many disparate sources.

As users “scrub” their mouse across the surface of the strata, sounds are revealed. That is, the speed and direction at which the user moves the mouse affect how the sound will play: fast, slow, normal, forward, backwards, etc. Because it requires a constant steady hand, the work choreographs the user into repeatedly scrubbing the strata in order to catch fleeting moments of sound. Only by repeated scrubbing does one slowly build an impression of the original communication as if reconstructing messages from the sonic rubble.
Required: You need the Shockwave Plugin to view this project. If you don't have it, it can be downloaded here.
General Note: It is recommended that you use a trackpad, rather than a mouse to interact with this piece if one is available. I mention this because using a trackpad enhances the intimacy and pacing in a way which more accurately communicates my intentions for your experience with this piece.