Five Women, Five Men, One Child

2010 / audio recordings, various borrowed players, custom shelving, double-faced clock, bench

Five Women, Five Men, One Child is an installation and audio record of every word uttered over the course of the normal days of eleven anonymous individuals across Pittsburgh on 1st April 2010, US Census Day.

Five women, five men and one child volunteered to wear a digital recording device for twelve hours that recorded every word they spoke over the day whether they were at home, at work, at school or in a bar. The recordings captured everything; banter with friends, worried conversations with spouses, important meetings at work and talking about masturbating on the way home from school. One participant got promoted, another got drunk.

The eleven initial recordings were transcribed, preserving only the participants half of the conversations. Then eleven actors read out the transcriptions. At the end of this process we had eleven, twelve hour recordings, each consisting of silence and speech. In the installation, these eleven audio tracks were played simultaneously and in real time, so that if you visit the exhibition at three pm, you would hear what the eleven participants were saying at 3pm. Each track was played back through a different audio device; for example a record player, black and white t.v., or stereo system. These devices were on loan from the original participants, and played back their own recording. 

In the space viewers were able to hear words uttered at exactly the same moment by people usually separated by geography and circumstance. These words, sounding like concrete poetry, collided together form a symphony of voices, an accidental documentary of the city that happened on US census day 2010, but that no-one heard.

Audio example: every word spoken between 10.21am - 10.22am on 1st April 2010;

Audio example: every word spoken between 4.33pm - 4.34pm on 1st April 2010;

This project was supported by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund, Pittsburgh. Olympus US kindly loaned equipment for the recordings. This project would not have been possible without Jeremy Fleischman who generously mastered, combined and exported the recordings and oversaw all technical aspects of the installation. The premier of this work took place at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in a solo exhibition in 2010.