A Sound Project for the Brooklyn Bridge (2010)
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic places in New York City and the world. Completed in 1883 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Spanning 5,989 feet, the open wooden and wrought iron second-story walkway presents a stark contrast to the rush of vehicle traffic below. Over a million people walk or bike across this majestic bridge each year. In addition to being a daily commuter thoroughfare, it is a destination for tourists, a path for joggers, and a haven for lovers who watch the sun rise and set off its waters everyday.
Virtually hidden amongst the rafters and fencing along the bridge are locks that signify the wishes, hopes and dreams of people from all walks of life. The locks are engraved with the names of lovers, relatives who have passed away, wishes and symbols of personal significance. Some are dated with birth, death or wedding dates. They come in an array of sizes and colors, many are personalized with little artifacts such as rubber hair bands or ribbons. Some are mysteriously left anonymous.
Liminal Keys: the stories and dreams of locks untold is a site-specific sound project that uses the locks of the Brooklyn Bridge as notation for a musical score or sound map. The breadth of the score spans the length of the bridge and can be read in either direction. I propose to map the locks onto blueprints of the bridge and then ask four musicians to interpret their placement into music. For each lock on the bridge, I will also harvest short stories from visitors and residents about their experiences on the bridge. The graphic score will be displayed with recordings of the stories and commissioned music in an exhibition at a venue to be determined.
The bridge itself will serve as the primary sight for these generated sounds. I will select 18 lock sites on the bridge to feature for this project. At each site a small box will be installed with an Mp3 player hidden inside. When a visitor plugs in a set of headphones into the designated headphone jack in each box, either a piece of music or a story will be played. The sound installation will be introduced and explained at both entrances of the bridge with fastened placards and an etched representation of the graphic score.
The goal is to present visitors with a deeply personal multi-mediated experience of the bridge and to present residents with a fresh perspective on their long-time friend. I also hope to connect people in this process by presenting stories that span generations, cultures, and languages. (Some of the stories may be presented in languages other than English by people from a multiplicity of ages.) The bridge is, above all, a liminal space. Everyone who comes here has come from elsewhere, and is in transition to somewhere—physically, culturally, linguistically, emotionally and psychologically. My purpose in executing this project is to capture this spirit of transit, the hopeful process of reaching across difference personally and between people.
The project will take 3 months to produce and 2 weeks to install. Ideally, it would be on view for 6 to 12 weeks. (The exact duration of the installation will be determined by funding and the permission given by the City of New York).
Audio recorder, microphone, external hard drive, computer, audio editing software
18 small mp3 audio players (and/or speakers).
18 custom built 5”x5”x3” encasements (wood or plexiglass) with metal fasteners.