Whistle Wall

Michelle Rosenberg

Artist Michelle Rosenberg in her new work entitled “Whistle Wall” embeds whistles in existing environments by integrating them into walls and other architectural features. As with many her past installations, “Whistle Wall” uses the production of sound to facilitate physical, spatial and social experiences.

In "Whistle Wall", visitors to Rosenberg’s studio are given straws and are invited to blow into face-plates mounted on the wall resembling the electrical or data/phone receptacles. The visitor must initially look around the studio and find the receptacles with the round holes, which are scattered throughout and mixed among receptacles with square holes. By blowing into the round-holed wall-plates the visitors’ breath transforms into a whistling sound coming out of one of the many square-holed wall-plates. Each sound produced has a different pitch and comes from a distinct location in relation to the body of the participant. Used alone, the whistle sounds map out the physical parameters of the studio. The difference between the location of the input of breath and output of sound serves as a testament to the movement of breath inside the built wall. It creates a type of intimacy that is unfamiliar, a displacement of breath as understood through sound. Used with other people, the wall introduces a social dynamic as the whistle sounds become a tool for communication and/or improvisational music. This interchange is directed by the whims of the participants.

Even tough the "Whistle Wall" installation is site specific, it can be easily imagined in any indoor environment. Its physical apparatus, the wall receptacle with its familiar wall mounted plate, suggests the potential for a ubiquitous indoor installation as a service parallel to power and telephone lines. In this way, "Whistle Wall" serves a dual function: first as a localized installation where participants engage with sound in a specific space, and second as a proposal for a far-reaching network of breath-powered, abstract tones