David Byrne
Brief description of the work:
Byrne achieves dislocation in the listener by playing back pre-recorded sounds of the actual location, for example sounds of running taps or flushing toilets. The sounds seem so believable that the listener initially cannot distinguish between recording and real sound.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
Stereo sound recordings, transmitted in special locations via headphones
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):
Shhh... Sounds in Spaces exhibition at V&A, 20.05. - 30.08.2004. David Byrne used the Cast Court Ramp, the Victorian Toilet (Room 16), and the Ramp B Ceramics (Room 143)
Audience information (size, mode of participation):
The sounds were accessed via headphones as part of an audio tour, so essentially it was an individual experience
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
Curators: Jonny Dawe and Lauren Parker
Floorplan, scheme:
Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Victorian Toilet (Room 16)
Key theme(s):
dislocation, interplay and fusion between participant's physical presence and a perceived reality (sound)
Further context:
online sound clip for Victorian Toilet (Room 16)

'I focussed mostly on non-spaces - the parts of a museum that are often overlooked but are essential - the ramps, corridors, stairways and restrooms. At the V&A some of these spaces are particularly beautiful and unique to this building while others have obviously been added more recently. I recorded sounds that would typically be heard in these spaces - dripping taps, footsteps in the ramps and mobile phones. I recorded these things in situ, and then edited them to become more structural, even musical. There is a little bit of trompe l'oeil involved - I hope that someone hearing a mobile phone ring on the recording will turn to see if someone is answering it, or someone hearing a toilet flush might believe that a person is about to emerge from a nearby stall. I hope the effect will be an incongruity between the interior world of a headphone wearer and the sounds one expects to hear around one - one intimate, emotional and private, the other social and democratic.'

David Byrne (online)