Silent Barn is listening to you

Jeremy Krinsley

G Lucas Crane mixing board and recording apparatus for Party Lab project at Silent Barn

The control room for the Party Lab project

The walls have ears, or at least mics.

Readers from the New York area may be acquainted with the live-in performance and art space Silent Barn, and the mad scientist G Lucas Crane who resides there. The member of Woods and Nonhorse has constructed an aleatoric octopus in the form of a giant mixing board that sends mics throughout the two story structure to record not only a performing band, but conversations in the basement, mutterings in the crowd, and sometimes the merengue blasting next door.

One can only imagine the hours spent wiring hundreds of feet of audio cables, sound checking mics, and losing brain cells hitting face against Barn's plaster walls to make this project happen.

The recording of Knyfe Hyts, with the sound of people gabbing under a storm of feedback, however, is measurable in so far that it is crazy, loud, muddy, and arguably does better the act of replicating the aura of their live sound than a pair of expensive studio mics staring straight at their amps ever could.

There are over a dozen such recordings up so far at partylab.tumblr.com, and soon to many more, much of it thanks to the work of Joe Ahearn.

If you want some real fun, though, read Mr. Crane's manifesto on the project, entitled “The Party Laboratory, Or, Alternately: A Center for Non-Amoral Surveillance,” in which he explains the project as an attempt to capture the space in its temporary totality:

What if your ears could float above the space, jump from corner to corner to outside, gaining an inkling of the totality? It would at the very least be mesmerizing in a human-animal sort of way. Would you be able to tell if a party was “good” or “raging” by an appreciation of the contours of the din? This project is our attempt at utilizing or experiencing these usually throwaway details.

He spends much of it arguing for a line in the sand between his project (we're not watching “you”; we're watching “it”) and our surveillance culture at large. (This is where the “non-amoral” comes in.) We can't help but think of Dan Deacon and his battle with Greyhound.

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