In acoustical engineering, “tuning the room” is a technique for measuring the specific sound properties of an enclosed space and then adapting the environment to improve its acoustic reflections. Tuning the Room asks that we consider how the specific characteristics of an environment shape our experience within it, and how we become attuned in return. It invites us to ask questions about our reciprocal relationships beyond the exhibition. How do we tune our communities, our institutions, our countries, and how do they tune us in return?
The measure and alterations of the exhibitions “room tuning” are framed in relation to its setting within the art gallery of an art school. In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, and in anticipation of the exhibition runtime falling during the first months of the new administration, Tuning the Room is a proposal to pay attention to the role that art and art education play in how voices are heard.
This site-specific installation fills the 3,500 square foot space of Ben Maltz Gallery, dividing it into two discrete spaces with contrasting perceptual effects. In one half of the gallery sound and light are absorbed by hand-dyed fabric acoustical panels and soft sculpture. In the other half sound and light are reflected by a chrome vinyl mural and aluminum seating. The absorptive side allows for voices to be heard clearly, and invites gatherings and discussion. The reflective side incites reverberation, motion, and outwardness. Tuning the Room is presented as an experimental tool for engaging with ideas of behavior, voice, reception, tuning, and the transfer of knowledge and energy.