A precise combination of sound file, amplifier and driver creates a unique fluxing gesture reminiscent of a breathing organ.
« …because sound is breath » Aristotle
How do we sense sound? Is it only through vibrations? We have come to realise that we hear sound below the 20 Hz--simply not with our middle ear. In "Breathe" the speaker plays a sound file that is below even 1 Hz, furthermore this oscillation is not a binary in and out. Rather the cone's movement is irregular and gestures between full-extension and full-recoil. There's a hesitation in the movement similar to when we try to catch our breath or when we hyperventilate. Offering the possibility of sound--because the speaker moves--but then only providing silence, the listener finds themselves unsure if their hearing is faulty. An uncanny sensation surfaces in the listener as they are only able to watch sub-frequencies being made. It is ambiguous if the sound is affecting them through a visual sense or a subtle acoustic sense.
The installation of Breathe (under the title of "hyperventilation v.0.03") was first shown in the inaugural exhibition of the FOFA gallery curated by Ian Campbell. The exhibition was entitled The Promise of Structure and took place in the new Engineering and Visual Arts complex giving Breathe a special significance. From the initial installation of the show until its finish two months later, the new building transformed from the last stages of a construction site to a functioning academic science and arts centre. When the show started, the stripped mechanics of the piece (extension cable, wires, naked driver, etc.) camouflaged itself with the residual artifacts of the architectural building process. The piece was often mistaken due to its materiality and to its subtlety as part of the unfinished process of technology not yet hidden. The architects promised users hi-tech infrastructure and "smart" technology that was to revolutionise the art practice and the institution of Concordia. Breathe asked in this context, what type of new life does this new technology bring?