HEARD is a voyeuristic audio installation that utilizes the “network interspace” between local and remote locations as a resonating chamber for private aural experiences. This connects the listener to listened experience in a remote location via a network. That is, sound recorded quasi-clandestinely during private experiences is modulated by a network connection from the installation site to the location in which the audio was recorded. This work investigates aural voyeurism, privacy in an interconnected and increasingly surveilled world, and voyeuristic predilections in human nature.
Exposing the most private moments of oneself is at once humiliating and deeply liberating. By allowing the public to, in a way, engage and participate — even unidirectionally — in a private life, the voyeuree is forced to confront their vices, pleasures, and banalities. For the viewers, the work asks them to confront their “inner voyeur” and to partake — perhaps enjoy — in the delights, ecstasies, shame, and suffering of another. Though not necessarily exposed themselves, they are nevertheless reminded of similar experiences they themselves have had and thus, examine their own private life in a way that is not dissimilar to the way I am forced to engage with mine. It reminds them that listening (and viewing) devices have become increasing smaller, more sophisticated, and higher quality such that in a modern society, their own private life is not so easily kept private. Since the audio is prerecorded and modulated (sometimes rendering speech or other sound unintelligible), the piece asks what voyeurism is when the act or conversation one is seeing/hearing has taken place at a different time. What is voyeurism when the Peeping Tom is not physically present during the act? Is it aural voyeurism to listen to non-conversation or a non-vice; i.e. eating or playing with a child? Regarding intelligibility, is it still voyeurism if the woman changing behind the curtain is merely a blotchy silhouette?