Place is a Sound

Inflatable Installation (ripstop nylon, blower, surround sound system) and one-hour 5.1-channel, surround-sound track

13 x 13 x 3 m


Commissioned by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture for Exhibition From Within, December 2019

My work has changed over the last year to focus more on the future. For this exhibition, I created an installation that is inflatable. It creates a space that feels almost like what Marc Auge refers to as a non-place in his book “Non-Places, introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity”. It both feels familiar and alien. You can’t quite feel at home, but you also don’t feel out of place. Many airports, hotels, malls fit this mold.

It consists of seven interconnected spheres in an H formation. Each sphere is three meters across. Spheres are rarely used in architecture, while hemi-spheres and domes are common. Domes are practical, spheres are show pieces and impractical. It should feel futuristic, but in a retrofuturism way, like the 1950s ideas of what the future would be like. The inflatable spheres contain surround sound speakers playing sounds from places around the world. It is a mix of natural, cultural, industrial sounds. It should feel familiar at times and disconcerting at others. The sound rotates and moves through the space, inviting the audience to move throughout the installation.

The name is a nod to the famous Afro-Futurist album and film “Space Is the Place” by Sun Ra. In my curatorial work, I’m investigating various ethno-futurisms looking for a quotidian future. The future I imagine, as a white American male is likely going to be different from one imagined by anyone from another culture, background, country, gender. The 1950s future and the non-places feel welcoming or at least neutral to me but could be places of anxiety or threats to someone else.

Final design made while in residence at Shangyuan Art Museum. Manufactured by Yantai Hello Inflatables Co