The book, entitled Aug 14, 2003, is central to each piece exhibited and contains all the stories that Rodriguez collected concerning the blackout. Some of the stories are in stark contrast to those that dominated the headlines about New Yorkers pulling together in post-September 11th society. There are stories of people trapped in elevators, robbery and junkies overdosing between stalled subway cars. These accounts have been transferred into first person inner-monologues and given individual profiles. The “voices” are set in Akzidenze Grotesk, being the typeface used in New York City Subway signage. Legibility was a primary concern as each voice is set using an extremely rigid grid structure that symbolises the power grid of the city.
Rodriguez has compiled these monologues into a book format with each chapter containing one page of six voices set in a grid. Each story is lost within the other stories until a specially cut mask is applied allowing the individual voices of these people to emerge. This system of deciphering information hinged upon the absence of specific pieces of the page just as the absence of electricity was central to each story. The resulting work can be seen as both a cityscape in its anonymity and a din of voices speaking over one another in unison.
Without a system to decode the stories, all we are left with is a visual representation of a din that led Rodriguez to translate the “voices” from the book. By devising a language based on the notational language a pianola uses, the 65 note scale, and assigning to it an alphabet complete with upper and lowercase letters as well as punctuation marks, he was able to craft numerous hand-cut piano rolls that could interpret the stories through sound creating a ‘sonic dialogue’ as heard through the pianola (a piano that plays by itself).
08.14.03 includes six piano rolls, each corresponding to a chapter in the book.
A piano and pianola are placed within the gallery allowing one to play these sonic abstractions and variables such as tempo, sustain and volume are in the players control.
David Rodriguez lives and works in New York City.
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Next Show: 60-seconds 21 July – 25 July