Embracing Whispers

Date: 12/03/2002

Category: installation

Embracing Whispers has evolved out of a series of reoccurring dreams where find myself in a mysterious location where I can hear voices coming from certain objects.  The voices are powerful and they resonate within my consciousness, yet their message and their meaning is thoroughly elusive.  Embracing Whispers is my attempt to understand the mysterious meaning of this dream by recreating it in physical space.

The setting of the dream is somewhere outside, usually in a hilly area.  In this space, I find myself standing before a door that is suspended in mid air.  Next to the door are four buckets that are also suspended in mid air.  From each bucket, a distinct, audible voice echoes but their language is indiscernible to the point that I am not even sure that it is a language.  The voices are haunting, even disturbing, but there is something about them that I find compelling – something that draws me to them.  As a matter of fact, I feel a strong connection with them.

With Embracing Whispers, I wanted to emulate the techniques of the Surrealists – taking familiar objects out of their usual context and placing them in foreign environments in which their placement ceases to make logical sense, but hopefully will reveal some emotional truth and communicate something meaningful on a subliminal, instinctual level.  When confronted with this surreal arrangement of objects in space, the participants will have two choices – either to ignore this assault on their subjectivity or to ’embrace’ it, opening themselves up to a new perspective and a different reality.

Each bucket represents a container of past memories, feelings, desires, etc.  In the installation there is a speaker installed in each bucket.  The speakers broadcast old family recordings of my sister, my grandmother and myself from thirty years ago.  These recordings have powerful, memory associations and elicit strong feelings of nostalgia.  There is a desire to preserve and reconnect with that person I once was.  Similarly, there is a desire to preserve the nature of my past relationship with my sister and my grandmother.  This is all intertwined with a longing for a time and reality that now eludes me – a desire not to lose touch with things that were once important to me.

The installation also consists of photographs of my sister, my grandmother and me.  These pictures were hand processed; a procedure that involves washing each photograph with soap and water.  For me, this is a highly symbolic ritual signifying the desire to preserve the past and regain lost innocence.  Part of this installation is also a white door suspended from the ceiling, separating three buckets from a large tree that is also suspended in mid air.  The door symbolizes a physical separation of space as well as a point where one enters a new space.  There are dirty footprints on the side of the door that faces the tree.  For me, this symbolizes the desire to bridge the barrier of time and to reconnect with my past by stepping through the door and emerging on the other side where the three buckets are.

The tree contains small speakers on its branches.  When one gets close enough to the tree, one hears distorted voices from each of the buckets.


The final element of the installation is a fourth bucket that is situated on the ground with a light bulb suspended over it.  The bucket is filled with water and upon closer examination one sees a dream journal submerged in the water.  The water causes the ink of the journal to slowly fade away.  The submersion of the journal in water and the subsequent fading of its ink, symbolizes the elusive and mysterious nature of dreams.  Our dreams are part of a reality that we are not quite at home in, our subconscious minds, symbolized by the water.  Our subconscious mind distorts reality, giving its contents a surreal quality just like water distorts our perception and makes things look surreal.  We attempt to find meanings in our dreams, but those meanings are not very clear and are made murky by the water of our subconscious minds and its surreal quality.

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