Since December I have been fortunate to be an artist in residence with the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC). The final result of our time together is called The Listening Tent, a 4’ wide by 7’ long tent. The tent is constructed from thrift store blankets (washed!) and a wood frame. It was inspired by our visit to the world’s quietest place (located here in South Minneapolis!).
It also came as a response to Open Exposure, the music event WACTAC is presenting currently with a culmination on July 11. We were thinking about what we could do that would be using the basic element of music; sound. Although a concert is all about listening, it is a rather proscribed activity–look at the band and listen. I was curious to see how muffling and disconnecting sound from visual cues would work in the environment of a music performance. One also enters the tent alone, something else that is a seeming contradiction at a music show. The Listening Tent is a dark, quiet space to enter with this prompt,
Use this tent for a moment of solitude while listening to what is around you and what is in your head.
We set it up at The Beat Coffee Shop on Thursday evening for its public debut at the first of the music showcases.
Four bands were in the line-up, Diving for Illusions ,Cat & Fox, Wolf Mountain and Howler. I was mostly hanging out in front of the coffee shop where we had the tent set up and guarding the burritos. We had some visitors to the tent however, teen and otherwise. One coffee shop patron said something about how “people are always telling me I have to listen more” and tried out the tent for 5 or so minutes, one of our longer visitors. Some other comments related to the feeling of motion while in the tent, like a boat, something I also experienced. Sound is heard through the tent but one user described it eloquently this way,
“Things were brought down to a loud murmur. The roughness of the street was softened and idle chatter was akin to your neighbors in an apartment with thin walls”
There was also a sense that time was differently experienced, “I forgot where I was for a minute. I felt like I could walk out of it and end up in Narnia. Also, I kept thinking about disasters (I’m claustrophobic).”
Finally, unless you can make a true, portable anechoic chamber, “Motorcycles are loud. Even when you’re in a tent.”
Looking forward to The Listening Tent being used tonight at the Depot and on Sunday at Eclipse Records.