Re-heard is a work for fixed media on loop written to accompany visual artist Tiffany Hokanson’s M.F.A. Thesis Show, Re-seen, exhibited at Indiana University’s Grunwald Gallery of Art in the spring of 2021. In Re-seen, Hokanson uses salvaged materials from forests fires in southern Oregon and a demolition site in Bloomington, Indiana to create sculptures and prints that, as Hokanson writes in her thesis statement, “[reject] the stigma of ‘ruination,’” and instead present “an alternative method for appreciating matter in its present state of being.” Re-heard is my sonic and thematic response to Hokanson’s art.
Over the course of twenty-two minutes, Re-heard ebbs and flows between the real and the abstract. For long stretches, the piece presents minimally edited field recordings captured by Hokanson at the demolition site in Bloomington. These recordings place the listener in the site—among hulking constructions of gnarled rebar and splintered concrete, within earshot of jackhammers punching through rock and excavators sifting through rubble. Then, gradually, these recordings metamorphose into softer, harmonious, incandescent sounds, gesturing at a wholeness that radiates from within the rough-hewn and “ruined” objects. The quieter sections then give way to the raw field recordings and the cycle starts over again.
To give the sense that these sound worlds emanate directly from the materials used in Re-seen, during the debut exhibition Re-heard was played back on speakers hidden within one of the show’s sculptures, Pile, an assemblage of steel, concrete, gravel and dirt on the gallery floor. (Image courtesy of Tiffany Hokanson).