I have long been interested in the idea of location specific recording and installation work. This is my first installation, and although very basic, I believe it embodies important ideas of the effects of sound in work environments and raises light on the question of how these sounds effect worker interaction and overall emotional states . I find this especially pertinent to shop, labour, and warehouse work where the repetitive nature of factory sounds become a routine stimulus for employees.
I work as a (trainee) pump service technician for a company called Canadian De-Watering. The pump department is just a small corner of what is a massive shop (It would probably take up close to a city block) and for eight hours a day I am fully engrossed in the most stimulating sound world; forklifts, shop cranes, welding, hammering, lathe work, painting, running engines, yelling, generators, running pumps, etc... all providing a unique hum or buzz that perfectly blends with all the other hums and buzzes in the shop. I felt immediate inspiration the moment I stepped foot into the shop.
Sometime during the first week I captured a 2 hour field recording of the work environment. Initially, I only wanted the recording for personal listening enjoyment, and to maybe incorporate it into some of my own music. Later that week, however, I discovered that the shop stereo had an eighth inch to RCA adapter cable plugged into it. This gave me the idea of patching my recording through the stereo and playing it in the shop, giving the illusion that the shop was busy with work.
The problem I was faced with was that I wanted to play the recording in it's entirety without having to compete with the present work sounds. Fortunately, I was one of maybe eight people scheduled to work on Remembrance Day. Because most of the employees were at home and there was little work to do that day, this was the perfect day to broadcast. For a 2 hour span the shop was filled with week old work noise. And even though the recording was playing at one small corner of the shop, it was not confined to that area. The high ceilings and large open space allowed the sounds to reverberate and travel great distances, solidifying the illusion of "work". A success I believe, but the most rewarding part must have been the confused look on the faces of the employees that were present that day. One guy finally realized it was a recording, but for a moment there thought he had gone completely crazy. "I thought I heard a forklift backing up, and I'd stop what I was doing and look around and think where the fuck are these forklifts?!".