m+k:: american cypher (2012-13)

   

 

American Cypher is a meditation on American stories about race and DNA. It is a site-specific installation consisting of multi-channel sound, video, and a series of letterpress prints for created for exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem. At the center of the project is a sound art piece originally commissioned by Bucknell University entitled Stereo Helix for Sally Hemings. Companion works including a performance and book were also created for this project. The letterpress work for the piece was produced with Intima Press/Mindy Beloff and the animation work was done with Moonrabbitz/Yuki Nakajima.

Stereo Helix for Sally Hemings is a sound installation co-commissioned by the Bucknell University Griot Institute for Africana Studies and the Samek Art Gallery. It reflects on the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. It uses the sound of Sally Hemings' bell, given to her by Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha Jefferson, as a focal point. The sound recording has been manipulated in order to derive multiple textures, pitches, colors and effects from the bell, whose sounds have been mixed in the installation in real-time with ambient field recordings from Jefferson's Monticello plantation. The sound plays from moving speakers in the stairwell of Bucknell's Elaine Langone Center, emitting an extremely narrow beam of sound in a spiraling double helix-like pattern.