The Wind That Blows Is All That Anybody Knows (2017)
7 April - 2 May 2017, Dupont Underground, Washington DC
Interactive audio installation in "at least ten" locations; >40 minutes of recorded audio content, motion detectors, speakers, Arduino, MacBook Pro
The Wind That Blows Is All That Anybody Knows is a site-specific, interactive audio installation, focusing on themes of arrival, departure, and abandonment in the context of America’s current political moment.
Specifically created for Dupont Underground, the installation presents a number of recorded fictional monologues in different voices. These stories, encompassing platform romance, chance meetings with strangers, sudden tragedies, and surprising transformations, offer echoes of the space’s history as a once-thriving trolley station.
Each monologue, taken on its own, is a self-contained, site-specific story that could have happened at the exact location where it is installed. But the monologues also intersect ambiguously with one another, and, taken collectively, hint at a larger, uncertain story about a society on the verge of collapse through a breakdown of social trust, the transgression of common rules, and an inexorably mounting fear of the other.
The installation recordings, dispersed along more than 150 yards of the abandoned trolley station, are presented in a layered sonic environment; some voices emerge from prominently mounted speakers while others may be little more than whispers emerging from cracks in the wall. The installation is presented in a non-linear way with no set order among the stories, encouraging visitor exploration of the trolley station. The project comprises “at least ten” audio installation sites within the tunnel; given the subtlety of some of the audio interventions, and their undisclosed number, visitors can never be certain that they have encountered all of the recordings, heightening the sense of uncertainty about the ultimate meaning of the larger story.
The title, borrowed from the concluding lines of a poem by Thoreau, evokes the limits of what humans come to understand as a result of their activities and striving – and suggests basic commonalities in the human experience, regardless of a person’s station in life. That, in the end, the wind that blows is all that anybody knows highlights how most truths remain elusive, how most things that happen will eventually be forgotten, and how lessons from history seldom remain learned. The presence of wind is a unifying element across a number of the stories, offering an interlocking set of metaphors. But in addition, the sound of wind will be intermittently mixed over many of the narratives, at times partially or even completely obscuring them, in a way that is affected by visitors’ movements through the tunnel as captured by motion detectors.