Adam Davis: artist in residence (June 2010)

In June of 2010, I participated in a month long residency at Makan. Attending the program was not only my first time in Jordan, but the Levant as well. In addition to all of the amazing experiences and productive time the residency afforded me, attendance also provided the opportunity to explore the region during and after my stay. While in Jordan, I rented a car and went on a five-day exploration that spanned from Umm Qais in the north, all the way to Aqaba in the south. I also visited Lebanon while in residence, as well as Syria and Palestine/Israel once the residency was completed. All of my travels were multifaceted and amazing, each in their own unique ways.  

During my stay I found myself constantly dwelling on the conceptual dimensions and physical manifestations of power and communication.  On both the surface and subterranean levels of consciousness, I found these aspects omnipresent when living and traveling in the region. This combined with my recent interests in both theoretical physics, and metaphysics (brought about to some degree by the recent death of my father and declining health of my mother), led me to embark upon a new project during my stay.

In its first phase, I used photography to document electric and telephone lines throughout the country. Then, through the use of Photoshop, I extracted, layered, and edited these images to create four, hybrid forms or transmission devices. In phase two, these familiar yet otherworldly objects were used as overlays on time-lapse video footage taken of the daytime sky. In their final form, each of the objects appears suspended in the sky, and exists as a separate video in a four-channel installation. Each video is projected onto a different wall in a square room, encircling the viewer. The audio component of the piece consists of two facets: interviews I conducted throughout my travels, as well as a field recording made in Syria. The interviews always consisted of the same two-part question: do you or have you ever sent transmission beyond the physical universe as you understand it, and do you or have you ever received transmissions from beyond the physical universe, as you understand it? The second facet, a field recording I made in the town of Hama, Syria, is of the noise created by one of its large water wheels that the town is famous for.  The creaky wooden wheels, which on the surface appear to serve no beneficial function besides tourist spectacle, create a loud drone that is both jarring and meditative. Like the transmission devices of my fabrication, they seem to serve the purpose of channeling something larger, familiar, and yet unidentifiable. In the finished work, the two components play simultaneously, with the pitch of the sound created by the water wheel manipulated to create a lower, resonating tone, with audible as well as physical dimensions.