babbel

Artist

Meesh Fradkin

Year

2023

Materials

Wood, plastic tubing, rubber tubing, metal wire, steel rods, 3D printed parts, audio interface, amplifier, cables, loud speakers, condenser microphones, LED strips, Arduino, Max/MSP, REAPER, Ableton, RTcmix, Unity, Blender, Parsec

Project description

Sound descriptions by Cheryl Green

Technical and manufacturing support by Vincent Cusson

Meesh Fradkin's voice-activated sculpture listens to the formation of speech and explores the loss of meaning in buzzwords. Powered by a sonified dictionary composed of jargon, babbel questions positionality in the arts by bringing attention to who is participating in real time.

Suspended from the ceiling as multi-tiered wooden chandeliers with steel rods and plastic tubing, this installation lights up and emits sounds in response to words overheard in the gallery space. Fradkin’s installation invites visitors to consider how words are hollowed out by use, overuse, or misuse.

Please note that some sounds may be loud and dissonant.

Documentation

five sculptures, wooden frames threaded with masses of tubes hang from a ceiling grid framed by white gallery walls and white furniture. Three screens are mounted on the back wall.
Multi-tiered suspended wooden chandelier with plastic tubes spilling outwards over the sides. There are four speakers and two microphones integrated into the sculpture.
Wooden disk with tubes hanging off of it. A metal rod passes through the middle. In the background, blurred, are two monitors with a human figure.
Close-up of babbel’s central chandelier, a multi-tiered suspended wooden sculpture with plastic tubes spilling outwards over the sides. There are four speakers, two microphones, and red 3D printed parts integrated into the sculpture.

Visual description

Meesh Fradkin’s babbel is composed of five multi-tiered sculptures that sprawl over the entrance of the gallery, spilling into the main exhibition space. Suspended from the gallery’s pipe grid with thin metal wires, an outer ring is formed by four of the low-hanging chandeliers around the centerpiece. As the sculptures float four to seven feet off the ground, tactile floor bumpers and arranged seating mark off these areas.

The largest chandelier is voice-activated, emitting different sounds in response to words spoken in the gallery. Four small speakers and two microphones are integrated into the sculpture and three larger speakers are in the pipe grid.

Behind the chandeliers are three large screens mounted in a horizontal line on the wall about four feet off the ground. The monitors reveal “You are a very good person” in red text, alternating between a black and white background.

There are two small-scale 3-D printed models of the sculptures anchored to the pedestal against the alcove wall. These are tactile sculptures that want to be touched and explored—it’s ok if you break it.

Access/babbel