Artscape: Audible Dwelling

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If the pair of "stereo houses" indiscreetly plopped in the parking lot at E. Long Street and Washington Avenue shook you from the monotony of your daily commute, good. They're working.

The structures, known as Audible Dwelling, are part of Descent to Revolution, a series of exhibitions presented by CCAD's Bureau for Open Culture beginning last fall. The idea was to invite artist collectives from around the world to Columbus to create "social practice" art that engages with people outside the confines of a gallery.

Some of the participating groups, such as Portland's Red 76 and Learning Site, the Swedish/Danish group responsible for Audible Dwelling, had worked with CCAD before, but in a limited fashion.

"The works we had shown with them in the past were more documents of their work, sometimes photographs or text about their practices," said James Voorhies, the Bureau's director of exhibitions. "These works are really at the heart of what they do."

In the case of Learning Site, the team of Denmark's Rikke Luther and Sweden's Cecilia Wendt, that meant a fascination with public speaking's capacity to disrupt everyday life. The stereo houses - giant speaker cabinets intended to function as meeting places as much as broadcast stations - were influenced by Eileen Gray's De Stijl table in an attempt to optimize sound projection and maximize use of the space.

Meanwhile, Learning Site teamed with Columbus talent Jaime Stapleton, Tony Peluso, Josh Penrose and Cassandra Troyan to write and record a speech, Is This Columbus, Ohio?, to be broadcast at irregular intervals from Audible Dwelling.

The speech, which also streams at, takes a bemused, increasingly intense look at the city's reliance on cars and the massive infrastructure of freeways and parking lots that goes along with it.

Learning Site's fascination with Columbus' car-centricity was partially inspired by Luther and Wendt's stay in CCAD's guest houses next to the Audible Dwelling lot during an information-gathering visit last summer.

"There is this certain strangeness of these two brick structures that are from the 19th century ... marooned in the middle of this asphalt parking lot," Voorhies said.

Audible Dwelling will be in Columbus through March, when it'll be transported either to California or its eventual destination back in Copenhagen. In the meantime, Voorhies is considering proposals from other artists looking to use the space.

One upcoming event is Chord of Columbus, an audio-visual project by Skylab's John Also Bennett and Ohio State architecture professor Sarah Cowles. The duo is doing field recordings around Columbus, compiling them into a sound collage - "a cross-section and map of the city," their proposal explains - and using the wave forms to project colored lights from oscilloscopes in and around Audible Dwelling.

Chord of Columbus will be performed Feb. 26 and March 6, with a bike tour of recording sites on March 3.

Audible Dwelling