I am sitting in a room
Alvin Lucier
Brief description of the work:
Lucier records himself narrating a text, and then plays the recording back into the room, re-recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Since all rooms have a characteristic resonance (eg. different between a large hall and a small room), the effect is that certain frequencies are emphasised as they resonate in the room, until eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
I am sitting in a room, for voice and electromagnetic tape, originally conceived in 1970 for Guggenheim Museum in New York City. A second version was made in 1972 to accompany the dance, Dune, performed by the Viola Farber Dance Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):
I AM SITTING IN A ROOM has been published by Lovely Music, Ltd. LP/CD 1013, 1981/1990
Audience information (size, mode of participation):
The audience can gradually hear the characteristic resonances of the room where the piece is performed.
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
I am sitting in a room features in 'Sound by Artists' ed. by Dan Lander and Micah Lexier, Walter Phillips Gallery, Toronto 1990
Floorplan, scheme:

Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Observing one's awareness of listening, awareness of location; intense engagement with a body
Further context:

original sound recording, 1969, 15:23 21Mb

The recited text describes this process in action - it reads:

"I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the last resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, perhaps with the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonent frequencies of the room, articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have." Alvin Lucier