Background Noise
September 18 - October 6, 2023
Pratt Photography Gallery

Background Noise aims to reorient our relationship to our environment and its histories through photographs, a short film and sculpture. It explores the legacy of nuclear production in New York and highlights its continued effect on our everyday surroundings. The short film, Four Minutes, Full Volume, depicts emergency siren tests within the evacuation zone of the recently decommissioned Indian Point Nuclear Energy Plant, fifty miles north of New York City on the Hudson River.  The film intersperses five siren tests that each run for four minutes at a single unwavering tone at 580 Hz between ambient sound scenes of the zone. Through these meditative static scenes of the evacuation zone and the siren’s sound, the short film highlights the ambiguity of grappling with the ubiquitous nuclear infrastructure around us. The sculpture which opens the show has aluminum tuned chimes to 580 Hz, the same frequency as the sirens surrounding the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and functions as a warning system. It questions the efficacy of government emergency planning through its indoor activation from fans on a controlled “natural wind” setting. The black and white photographs from within the zone, the short film and sculpture asks us to reconsider if we’re listening to these warnings in a time of increasingly unpredictable emergencies in New York and elsewhere.

This work was made possible with support from the Pratt Graduate Student Engagement Fund.