Sal Randolph

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Ambience Scores for Public Spaces, 2012

Sound, paper, typewriting, public space., Dimensions Variable


Ambience scores are transcriptions into language of the ordinarily unheard sounds of place. From this alphabetically rendered sound composition, places could then be performed as voice or in imagination. The originating moments they capture are ephemeral and unrepeatable; transcription errors are inevitable, but every attempt at the impossible task is made.

The places represented here are all sites of public protest in New York: places where the question of what is permissible in public space has been contested during demonstrations, riots, and public gatherings. Field recordings were made to capture the contemporary sounds of these locations: passing cars, horns, the screech of brakes, voices, musical instruments, bird sounds, barks, clatters, rustlings. The recordings were then transcribed on a manual typewriter and the resulting score becomes a kind of index of the daily life of places in which public dramas have once played out.

Central Park, Sheep Meadow (1968 “be-ins”)

Grand Army Plaza (2003 anti-war march)

Madison Square Garden (2004 Republican National Convention demonstrations)

Maiden Lane (1712 New York slaves’ revolt)

Museum of Modern Art (1970 Art Workers Coalition Art Strike)

Saint Patrick's Cathedral (1989 ACT-UP demonstration)

Stonewall Inn (1969 gay rights riot)

Times Square (2011 anti-greed demonstrations)

Tompkins Square Park (1874 worker's riot)

Union Square (1905 suffragette rally)

Washington Square Park (1961 beatnik musician riot)

Zuccotti Park (2011 occupation)

This work is currently on exhibition at the Kunstverein Gottingen, in Gottingen, Germany. Related work was also on view recently at Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn.

Artworks by Sal Randolph

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