Avenue of Books (2009)
Public, site-specific sound installation made for the Stockholm University Library | Curated by Robin McGinley , faculty of International Curating Management Education Programme at the Stockholm University.
Avenue of Books is a site specific sound installation in the central atrium space of Stockholm University Library. The installation was realised by affixing small contact loudspeakers onto the large aluminium-clad ventilation ducts, which are placed along the sides of the space, such that the resultant sound of the work was definitely coloured by the physical construction and acoustic response of the ducts themselves. The installation was active during the library’s usual opening hours, with the sound material specifically designed to enhance the daily use of the space, being conducive to reflection, contempla- tion and study.
Avenue of Books represents an innovative departure in the exhibition of sound art, especially since research libraries are not (for obvious reasons) generally considered as po- tential presentation venues. This exhibition did not only offers library users the opportunity to reconsider their experience of a space that they may know well, but also presented an artwork that existed only in terms of a subtle atmosphere or tint, derived from the unique set of spatial, architectural and acoustical properties of the space, a consequence of the celebrated, original architecture by Ralph Erskine, developed throughout the late 1970s and which opened on the Frescati Campus in 1983.
The sound material of the work was based on a series of recordings of the library staff, reading from works that they have themselves selected from the library collections, with elements of these record- ings being organised and manipulated in the process of creating a delicate and slowly evolving sound- scape.
Thus, the work auralised the library space from a number of discreet perspectives: through the sound- ing of texts from the collections, through the voices of the librarians, and finally through the physical plant of the building itself. It is in this way that the project proposed the dynamic interplay of public space, audience, architecture and sound. Text: Robin McGinley