You want to listen first and see second. So you enter the room. It looks empty, silent.
Someone in their early twenties hands you a pamphlet and a pair of studio-styled headphones attached to a small electronic device. They tell you, ‘Press one to eleven’ and point to something that resembles an album track-listing, except. There are writers’ names instead of bands. Locations instead of songs. Strange?
You recognize some of the authors. You enjoy familiarity but crave the unknown. The kid resumes instructing. ‘See the numbered images on the wall? They go with the audio.’ What’s the relationship between the sound and the image? Kid says, ‘Translation.’
You strap on the headphones. You pick a random number and press play. You look for the same number on the wall. An image is close by. Next to it, beat up office chairs dragged from the street. A voice arises in your ears. You sit on the chair. You listen closely. Crackles, hiss. And you’re on Atlantic Avenue, between Nevins and Third. It’s Brooklyn. 1971.
Time passes, the voice disappears. You wonder where you’ll end up next. Another track, another seat, a different voice. You’re somewhere else.
Perched on a little stool you hear a six year old girl’s voice. You’re suddenly lost in the Sheraton Hotel in the late 80s. An Aztec mothership in Doha’s desert.
You realise you’ve entered a mixtape of space and time that’s 11 tracks long. A compilation of places, that’s you. Tripoli, Ramallah, Les Ardennes. Years pass. Sofia, Brixton. Qalandia Checkpoint. Here’s The Metaverse. A garden in Suzhou. Few minutes more. Until West Vancouver. Where the world is ending.
Text by Charles Arsène-Henry & Shumon Basar
“Translated By” Douglas Coupland, Rana Dasgupta, Julien Gracq, Hu Fang, Jonathan Lethem, Guy Mannes-Abbott, Sophia Al Maria, Hisham Matar, Tom McCarthy, Adania Shibli, and Neal Stephenson
Curated by Charles Arsène-Henry & Shumon Basar
15 January – 9 February 2011
Friday, January 14, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Thursday, February 10, 6-7pm
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES