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Bryan R. Adams + Dorothy Classen

Sound Maze Installation

Within Media Box One, we will create a sound maze. At the entrance, a viewer will be confronted with a round opening at the bottom of the doorway. This opening should be large enough for a person to fit through, about three feet wide. The rest of the doorway will be covered with black cardboard, acting as a boundary. On the floor, there will be a deep green shaggy rug and some decorative pillows to match. Green simulates a feeling of comfort and relaxation; the entrance should be inviting. The viewer will have to decide if they will proceed. Should they choose to walk away, that’s it; they miss out on the Sound Maze. However, if an audience member crawls through, he or she will enter a tunnel-like structure, facing two walls meeting at a point. The viewer now becomes more of an interacter and must chose to continue left or right at the fork.

Like the entrance, this three-foot height limit will continue throughout the rest of the piece. As someone continues crawling their way through the maze, it gets darker as they get farther from the entrance. The pillows become less in number until deep in the maze there are none, as different rugs also change from fluffy and soft to harder and rougher. Eventually, the carpeting will disappear all together, and instead the floor will be covered with pebbles and tiny stones.

Unlike a typical maze, there will be no dead ends or wrong ways, just many turns one must feel their way through once it gets pitch black. Should more than one person enter at a time, they could be faced with waiting for the person in front of them to fumble through turns, or wondering if they are holding someone else up. Eventually, one will crawl their way around the entire Media Box and start to come back around to the original entry point. They will start to see light, find their way out and have the option to participate again, tell others about their experience, or just keep it to themselves. Because the tunnel almost acts as a continuous throughway, there is also a possibility for more than one person to be in the maze at a time and bump into the others going the opposite way. Within the tight space, audience members will be forced to not only interact with the installation, but to compromise to go in the same direction, or move aside for one another.

To add to a level of discomfort or confusion, several speakers will be set up periodically in between the open spaces of the maze. They will be out of the way so the public can still feel their way around, but close enough to be heard. The sounds being played will include various types of breathing and other ambient human noises. For example, steady breathing will turn into faster paced huffing, and a man will clear his throat and go back into some slower breathing. Intertwined with these respiratory sounds will be the shuffling of things. This shuffling should be only recognizable as an object or person moving about, but a listener shouldn’t be able to decipher what they’re listening to other than the breathing. As an individual gropes their way along, closer to and farther from the speakers, they should wonder if there is another person within the maze.

Pushing the disorientation further, in the deepest part of Media Box One, a projector will be set up hanging from the ceiling. It should point on a diagonal to hit the floor, exterior walls of the maze, and back wall of the gallery. Clips of television static will be shown. From within the maze, one will only be able to see bits of flickering light through the cracks between walls and the top layer of cardboard.

The Sound Maze is not meant to scare viewers or act as a fun house, but to put someone in an uncomfortable position, and have them fight their way through the uneasiness. The respiratory sounds will lead to questioning the solitude of the person within the maze. Maybe a viewer is apprehensive about being alone in the dark in an unfamiliar setting; or maybe they get anxious if a faceless stranger comes too close. Is this stranger just passing or is it a more intimate setting with minor light and pillows?

With tight walls, low ceilings and scrambled rug pieces, it can provoke other ideas of a child’s fort and play area. This then also has an effect on the level of intimacy a viewer feels. Is it appropriate to get these feelings of intimacy in a child-friendly place? We want people to be able to step out of their comfort zone, and step into the barrier of ill ease for a bit. One should realize we haven’t gotten anywhere in life without trying new things, and fumbling our way through the dark abyss of the unknown.