whisper down

Installation views at Het Apollohuis, Eindhoven, Netherlands (September, 1994). Mixed media, electronics, sound (dimensions variable)

Whisper Down is an installation built from a system of wires, pickups, speakers, and amplifiers which comprise a network that produces sound on its own and also responds to a variety of visitor activities. The piece illustrates and makes audible an image of a systemic interdependence that is sensitive to the interventions of an outside force. A technological allegory for the process of social discourse (particularly the spreading of rumors), the piece is a highly malleable and unstable version of whisper-down-the-lane.


In the piece, a number of audio speakers are connected by a wire to one or more pickups. When a speaker broadcasts a sound, it resonates the wire attached to it, and the wire's vibrations are transduced by a pickup and fed into an amplifier which powers the speaker. There are several such configurations built in varying degrees of complexity; each comprises a circuit that feeds back on itself in a somewhat restricted way, thus inducing a systemic resonance that is both clearly audible and can be listener-mediated. The wires, speakers, and pickups are within reach of the listener who can pluck, strike, or otherwise engage these elements to effect a change in the sound.