Gnothi Seauton-Ekho Installation (details)

Gnothi Seauton (Know thyself)

is an examination of the Ekho myth interpolated with Karlheinz Stockhausen’s never fulfilled project, Tunnel Spiral. My installation reinvents the outdated technology of tape loops to create an ever-evolving installation. The installation, Gnothi Seauton, will use the sounds of spectators as they move through the space to form the echoes of their utterances. These echoes are ever changing and growing as more sounds are added to the tape loop. The installation consists of elongated tape loop running through a series of tape players with the sound on the tape deteriorating as the work recedes into the gallery space, creating a tunnel of sound and sight. The work will also incorporate a parabolic microphone that will pick up voices uttered and noise created in the gallery. The echoes are generated at various speeds and lengths as the sounds move through the various reel-to-reel tape recorders forming the sonic tunnel.

EKHO (Êchô), an Oreade, who when Zeus was playing with the nymphs, used to keep Hera at a distance by incessantly talking to her. In this manner Hera was not able to detect her faithless husband, and the nymphs had time to escape. Hera, however, found out the deception, and she punished Ekho by changing her into an echo, that is, a being with no control over its tongue, which is neither able to speak before anybody else has spoken, nor to be silent when somebody else has spoken. Thus, all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.

Karlheinz Stockhausen's unrealized project Tunnel-Spiral puts forward the creation of a composition in the shape of a sound-tunnel. The placement of loudspeakers, which emit sounds with predetermined delays, depends on the time needed to pass through the tunnel. That creates the temporal and rhythmical subdivision in the composition. Stockhausen described how sound ‘‘could make complete circles around people… or spiral movements of all different loops.... Multiple sound sources could be made to swirl along arbitrary trajectories, intersecting and interleaving each other. This polyphony of spatial movements, and the speed of the sound, became as important as the pitch of the sound, the duration of the sound, or the timbre of the sound’’(Cott, 1973).        

I believe that we see art and the notions behind a work of art as oriented toward visual communications, modern culture has little appreciation for the emotional importance of hearing, and thus attaches little value to the art of auditory spatial awareness. Marcel Duchamp also believed this and in his Notes proposes an acoustic drawing of a human profile and an acoustic sculpture of the Venus de Milo. In the case of Gnothi Seauton loudspeakers are used to reproduce the sounds created by the spectator through the tape loops. The sounds, not pre produced, as in Stockhausen’s Tunnel-Spiral are created by the spectators thus becoming more in tune with the Ekho myth. Only the last segments of the sounds generated by the beholder creates the cave like spiral tunnel.  Thus creating a spatial experience aurally but also capturing the eye through the constant movement of the elongated tape loop as well as the spinning reels of tape recorders and the movement of the UV meters. 

Gnothi Seauton (Know Thyself) is steeped in mystery as the spectator is asked to question where the echoes are derived and how the sounds, ones own sounds, are recreated to fabricate an aural sculpture of self through the formation of a spatial tunnel of oneself.