The different layers of the sound installation were originally created in synchronicity, and like the visuals were to loop continuously; however, when played on two separate operating systems, the sound slipped. This misalignment became an important feature: the slippage set a precedent for an ongoing notion of imbalance, thereby creating insecurity within the space. The layering of the projected imagery onto the sound and the misalignment of the voice and the drone re-enforced the concept of slippages of memory – breaks in remembering that disrupted the continuity and account of the story, breaking the temporal trajectory and highlighting the struggle of remembering. The sound sculpturally dissected the space and questioned the body’s relationship or orientation within the space; its presence and its absence created a complex interaction between the work and the audience.
There was one set of doors into Space 1, which were left open. The installation (compared with Space 2) was empty but for the black speakers against white walls and the sunlight pouring in through the skylights. Through continual listening to the drone, feeling it in different parts of my body depending on the volume, it appeared no longer to originate from the two speakers but from everywhere in the space. I experimented with the sound of the voice, lowering it to such a degree that one was forced to lean in really close to the speaker. Throughout the day the sun moved across the space, as bright as it was on the day the towers fell, a brightness that challenged and contradicted the deep and heavy sounds. Just outside the main exhibition space at Karst there was a point where all the components of the exhibition merged, a place where the words from the distant voice reverberated and echoed off the walls, the lower bass drone rumbled under my feet, and the moving imagery was clearly seen. The voice seemed to be carried, uninterrupted by the drone, and carved out a direct passage through the reverberation. The drone held and contained the space, creating depth that gave an audience permission to wade through it toward the voice – a voice that was once mine but was now outside me, just a woman’s voice, any woman’s voice, and its otherness, its separateness, provided comfort. Dislocated and disembodied, the voice moved through the stripped-back and simple space. Its emptiness was an escape from the chaos, from the infringement of others, from a mind full of clutter and the noise of the past. Positioned on the periphery, I viewed the exhibition from the darkness and was struck by the existence of an external part of me that now had form. Separated from the voice that echoed and bounced around the room I was in a position to hear the nearby church bells that drifted in from the distance and the sounds of gulls sliced by the noise of passing cars’ tyres on the road and in so doing I was building and creating new memories.
The experience in Space 2 was very different, for the audience was enclosed into a dark, unheated space. The effort in installing the exhibition in Space 2 was as demanding as the space itself and involved travelling back and forth between the university and Plymouth Arts Centre, running up and down stairs in search of the right leads to match the right fittings for the speakers. It was a small carpeted room with white walls and with three windows that I had taped up and blacked out but which continued to rattle in the wind. The size of the space (8 m × 6 m) was close to that of the room in New York where I first watched the news of 11 September 2001. The darkness was broken by the projected footage that flickered on the wall with an impermanence that fitted the scene it depicted. The scale was disturbing, in that this huge event was now contained in a small square of projected footage far from New York – the transference of trauma from site to site. I smelt from running up and down the stairs with the speakers. My sweat now embedded into the piece of work and into the room was accompanied by my tears – a room that so soon after was filled with people. I was reminded of Teresa Brennan’s (2002: 69) words, ‘rank with the smell of anxiety, I breathe this in. Something is taken in that was not present – at the very least, not consciously present – before. But no matter how thoroughly my system responds to the presence of this new affect, it is the case that something is added’. My smell was not the stench of anxiety rather it was of frustration, of remembering the past that leaked from my pores, of the toxic smell of burning smoky clouds. It was the frustration of wanting to communicate this part of my memory clearly and precisely and yet feeling as if in some way the work was falling short of my intention.
The four small Gale speakers in Space 2 were arranged on the floor around the edges of the room out of which the words from the journal flowed. Within this particular space the voice did not so much speak as ask one to bear witness; it was relentless and reminded me of what it was like to be in New York back then, of what it has felt like to hold the memory at bay for all of these years. The drone permeated the unyielding repetitive voice and I became aware (unlike in Space 1) that there was something missing, something left unsaid, lying just there under the words, moving with the drone throughout the space. I was unsure of what was missing and I had nowhere to go but back to my own memories, to my own recollection, in an attempt to locate the lost fragments. Reflecting on this, the footage began to become abstract, its repetition triggering a whole deluge of falling memories. I searched for the seam within the repetition in an attempt to slow things down. The hypnotic imagery began to swallow me up as I continued to wait for what was missing to be revealed. Faces began to appear within the imagery – ghosts – that seemed to increase in intensity accompanied by the sound of the drone. In hindsight the spectral was taking hold and demanding further exploration, leading me into the next stages of research.