“After Words” is an interactive sculptural sound installation in which the viewer’s participation causes basic units of speech to puncture the space, interrupting and overlapping yet remaining untied to any specific language. Inspired by early failed speech synthesizer technologies that could only emit syllables, consonants, and vowels, these structures house small circuit boards which trigger audio files to play at random when the connected stand has air blown into it. The sounds emitted are made up of language’s most basic building blocks and gesture towards a desire for language, but foreclose the possibility of meaning.
Ultimately, “After Words” aims to create a space where sounds question logic, embrace nonsense, and untether the voice from language while revealing underlying connections between human and machine.
2017-18 bronze, wood, bare conductive touch board, audio files
In this interactive sound sculpture, a soft and intimate part of the body, the tongue, is cast out of bronze. Viewers are invited to touch the tongues. The ability of the body to hold a slight charge triggers the sound of a vowel in English or Spanish to be spoken. As each vowel floats between the two languages, it's their phonetic similarities and differences that are highlighted.
Vowel sounds are the first our mouths learn as we come into language. As several are touched in a row, their sonic qualities are emphasized.
(Video coming soon)
Floating Vowels (Documentation)
a pair of speakers, audio files 2016
Two voices recite a list of Spanish and English false friends back and forth as if in conversation. False friends are words that sound and look alike in both languages but have completely different meanings. Yet, they often share similar etymological origins. They also point to acts of communication and miscommunication that might occur across languages.
The piece stems from a conversation with my mom who is an elementary school Spanish teacher and Walter Benjamin's idea that you can never really know anything except through its translation.
error handling vocabulary from several programming languages, audio files 2018
During my first time taking a programming class, I learned about a function that exists known as error handling. Its purpose is to anticipate, detect, and resolve application and communication errors to prevent the program from crashing. In this way, the language can never fail.
But, what does it mean if a language is not allowed to have any errors? If there is no room for misinterpretation or gaps in meaning?
In response, I've attempted to translate the coding vocabulary of error handling from these programming languages into human communication. I and another person communicate limiting ourselves to the list of 'error handling' vocabulary. We use words meant to prevent errors in a coding language to undoubtedly cause errors in another.
Casts of the artist's tongue are made out of chalk – a fragile, pedagogical material. Viewers are invited to use the tongues as writing tools, reorienting the relationship between speech and writing.
letter tiles, table, felt, projector, MaxMSP, web camera, lamp 2016
What might it mean for a group of people to shape a text together?
A table as a democratic platform for viewers to build words with tactile letter tiles. Once a word is assembled and placed on a slither of green felt, the participant pushes a button that will capture it with a photo and enter it into a database. Words are then pulled at random and placed into a text that is projected on an adjacent wall.
The words are constantly being scrambled by chance, at times forming a nonsensical text. This echoes the deconstructive and playful strategies the Dadaists implemented with language as a way to free it from meaning. The result is a collective portrait of those that participated, constantly in flux.
(Video coming soon)
Lines of Communication
two-channel HD video 2015
Juggling string becomes a metaphor for navigating spaces between languages. Using experience as a starting point, I interviewed my mother about her use of Spanish and English as a person who was born and raised in Panama, then later moved to the United States. 'What was your first language? How did you learn English? What language do you think in now? Dream in?'
As the performance progresses, these (blood) lines become tangled, crossed, and inevitably bound to one another.
audio recordings from the second floor of Elsewhere Museum, scrap metal and wood, wire, speakers, and microcontroller 2018
Staircase Score transforms a functional and transitional space within the museum into an interactive sound installation composed of pieces of scrap metal and wood, reimagined as drawer-like objects.
The objects’ unique handles are an invitation to be held, mirroring the support and aesthetics of the adjacent handrail. When held, each handle plays a different sound sourced from everyday happenings on the second floor of the museum. By touching several in a row, an impromptu melody is created and new associations are possible depending on their combination.
An instructional booklet accompanies the piece, inviting visitors to edit and add to the collection of sounds as an abstract, yet poetic form of communication with future visitors. In this way, the installation might remain in constant flux, like the museum itself.
Open Air Mattress Talks
air mattresses, question cards, conversation, people collaborative project 2016-Ongoing
An ongoing series of intimate conversations between students, professors, and the general public on various sites around the Arizona State University campus to talk about sexual wellness.
Participants sit on air mattresses, as a partial nod to Emma Sulkowicz’s mattress-lugging durational performance on Columbia’s campus, but also as a metaphor for the intimacy and relative innocence of student life and sexual exploration.
The mattresses are arranged in a circle and a stack of collectively written questions are passed around, encouraging the group to open up about topics related to sexual wellness. “What does a healthy relationship look like to you?” reads one. “What was your sexual education like?” reads another. Some are more personal, “Will you tell me about your first kiss?” or “What’s one piece of sex-related advice you would give to your 15-year-old self?”
In collaboration with: Amanda Bayham, Nicholas Cagnetti, Samantha Cook, Anthony Gaito, Cydnei Mallory, Liezel Melitante, Kaela Meyer, Dressler Parsons, Malissa Posyananda, Emily Thomas, Kyra Trent, and Nataile Walker.