Shifting Center considers acoustic practices in contemporary art and exhibition-making as they relate to cultural memory, colonial history, and decolonial processes. More specifically, this curatorial research and the subsequent exhibition investigates the politics of sound by considering two opposing tendencies at play within contemporary art exhibitions and colonial museums: dislocation (objects, artworks, and cultural belongings taken from their original context and silenced through the mechanisms of museological preservation and display); and location (how architecture and acoustics impact the experience of exhibitions as resonant spaces of sited and situated listening). Brooks and Ghouse bring these two tendencies together by the notion of a “shifting center,” a term in acoustics that describes the perceived dislocation in the position of a sound source.
In this project, the shifting center names both the process by which dislocated objects are relocated and the space in which the architecture and infrastructures of display limit the possible “sounding” of objects at the moment of encounter between an artwork and its audience. Maintaining a conviction that the museum remains an epistemic technology with profound potential for gathering a community of listeners, the curators pose the question: What tools and techniques can exhibitions employ to locate and listen to contemporary artworks that are themselves locating and listening to past places, peoples, architectures, and instruments?
Brooks and Ghouse will research and convene artists, curators, acousticians, architects, and archaeologists from across the world who similarly listen to, for, and through the past, in addition to utilizing evolving technologies towards collaborative and embodied methods of production and exhibition in the present.