as part of FAXEN
Multimedia installation, 2012
5-channel audio, microphone, mirror ball motor, speakers, table, text excerpt of William B. Seabrook’s book Witchcraft, Voice: Sam Bunn

Dimensions: 200x200x150cm

WOW | exhibition view | ©Faxen

The sound installation “Wow” explores a text by American author William B. Seabrook entitled “Wow!”, a reflection on what might happen if human language were abolished. Seabrook’s short story is based on an experiment with Aleister Crowley. In 1920, after a conversation about Trappist monks and their vows of silence, they both agreed to suspend normal verbal communication and limit themselves to the predetermined monosyllable “wow” for a week. Based on this experience, Seabrook wrote the short story “Wow!”, set in ancient China, in which people discover peace and contentment through replacing human language with the word “wow”; eventually, a second fraction emerges, those who spread dissent by using “wo”. In consequence, two great armies fight to the death over “wow” and “wo”, leaving nothing but “a few empty bubbles floating on a river of blood.”

Upon approaching the sound installation, visitors experience a blended soundscape of multiple voices. A slowly rotating microphone passes by a circular array of speakers playing back fragments of Seabrook’s short story. By putting on headphones, the listener can hear a steady fading in and out and experience a mechanical remix of Seabrooks’s text that is constantly generating new and unexpected combinations.


WOW | exhibition view | Das Weisse Haus, Vienna/AT | ©Faxen
WOW | exhibition detail | ©Faxen