I can only describe the first few weeks of this semester as deep, heavy, and frightening. I feel like I'm on a deep-sea dive, going down further and further into whatever it is I think I know.
I've been riding BART a lot from San Francisco to Oakland and back, and the more time I spend in the tunnel under the bay the more the noise gets distorted for me. You know how repeating a word can make it sound meaningless? I feel the same way about the electrical whining and mechanical grinding noises that the train makes as it flies through the transbay tube. One day I closed my eyes for the duration and I started to imagine myself in space, more specifically as the astronaut in 2001: A Space Odyssey as he travels through space and time at the end of the film, bright colors flashing on his glass helmet as he writhes in terror.
The BART sounds became the eery choir singing during the film as well, the dissonant chord that emerges whenever the monolith appears. I started to record the BART sounds--I've never worked with sound before, so I really have no idea what I'm doing. But listening to the recording in my studio, distorted by my iPhone's shitty speakers, it's oddly fitting. The sound evokes a careening, chaotic journey, a frantic energy, this mechanical cacophony. It was quite interesting when placed in the same space as all my woven, knitted, cozy objects. One of my peers commented that it felt like a "cottage industry at the end of the world."
It's a good step forward, I think, working with sound now. It changes things from this illustration of really bad stuff to this emotional place, which is what I've been striving for all along. One of my peers said it reminded her of 1,000 sewing machines, a factory, sweatshops, and her mother's job sewing at home until 2AM, scraping to get by. I just about cried. This isn't new territory--many people have criticized modernity before, many MANY people, Stanley Kubrick included. What happens when our machines run amok? What does it feel like? Where do we fit in? How do we live? What do we become? What HAVE we become?
My next projects include weaving with hand spun yarn and making dresses inspired by the what workers wore in factories in the 1940s, in addition to refining my BART sound recording.