Modern Orthodox + EarthSpeaker
June 29 through July 15 Eyebeam is pleased to present three new installations developed in our studios exploring innovative uses of sound and light, both visible and undetectable, to fix and define spatial environments.
Elliott Malkin's Modern Orthodox is a working demonstration of a next-generation eruv installed on 21st Street in front of Eyebeam in New York City. An eruv (pronounced ey-roov [related]) is a symbolic boundary erected around religious Jewish communities throughout the world. While an eruv is typically constructed with poles and wires, Modern Orthodox employs a combination of low-power lasers, wifi surveillance cameras and graffiti, as a way of designating sacred volumes of space in urban areas.
The eruv is an ancient architectural construct that stems from the observation of the Sabbath, the sacred day of rest that includes a prohibition against certain kinds of work, including the carrying of objects outside of one's home, or private domain.
The presence of an eruv allows some carrying on the Sabbath by symbolically converting the shared public space within its boundaries into the shared private space of a community. In this way, observant Jews can carry objects such as keys or prayer books while acting in accordance with sacred Talmudic principles.
Because the physical integrity of an eruv is essential to its symbolic function, a breach in any portion of it renders it useless, which is why the entire circumference of an eruv, usually miles in length, is customarily inspected prior to every Sabbath. Malkin's laser eruv, however, which relies on a continuous stream of photons rather than cords and wires, is not as susceptible to permanent breakage. A branch of a tree, for example, may impede the flow of photons but will not permanently damage the eruv apparatus. In this way, the laser eruv is self-healing. Malkin also uses surveillance cameras to monitor the laser eruv connections from a remote location, allowing eruv managers to identify obstructions more efficiently. The content of these video transmissions are displayed at Eyebeam as part of the installation of this work.
Elliott Malkin is a new media artist whose work explores the use of everyday objects invested with the power to "sanctify" space. His most recent work, Modern Orthodox, focuses on the eruv, a symbolic boundary used as part of the observation of the Jewish Sabbath. Elliott's other work includes eRuv, a virtual reconstruction of an eruv that once existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan -- and Crucifix NG, a next-generation crucifix that broadcasts a radio frequency version of The Lord's Prayer. Elliott is also investigating the way religion and technology combine to inform the construction of memorial sites. Elliott is originally from Chicago and lives in New York City. He also works as an Information Architect.
Jeff Feddersen's EarthSpeaker is series of large-scale autonomous, solar-powered sculptures. Drawing their inspiration from dusk-active creatures like crickets, bullfrogs and fireflies, they are designed to absorb and store solar energy during the day and retransmit the energy as acoustic sound for a brief period at dusk. As the sun sets, the system will create a short, distributed chorus of sound until the energy stored for the day is consumed. EarthSpeaker was commissioned as a permanent installation at free103point9's Wave Farm in Acra, NY where it will be transported to after exhibiting at Eyebeam. The challenge of creating a long-term installation, in a harsh environment, using available ambient energy pushed Fedderson's exploration of energy storage, alternative speaker functions and artistic design.
Jeff Feddersen is an artist, musician, and engineer interested in new musical instruments and sustainable energy. He has developed several new means of musical expression, including robotic sonic sculptures, real-time composition software, multi-modal digital input devices, and amplified acoustic instruments. He has exhibited and performed at the Chelsea Art Museum, the Apple Soho Store, and UC Irvine's Beall Media Arts Center, and the Lincoln Center. He has taught electronics, sustainable energy, and digital audio at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he was also a Resident Researcher, and has worked for the Technology Development group of Honeybee Robotics.