Structural Secrets

Like any good sci-fi and horror movie fan, I know that the walls absorb the things that happen between them. But to what extent? In particular, I’m interested in how buildings interact with their inhabitants. I’m sure at some point, all of us, while being in a room have wondered to ourselves, “What have these walls seen? Or better yet, heard?” By using sound, technology, and light, this project explores intricacies of architecture and interacting with that architecture in aspects we don’t usually think about, such as how much of our daily interactions do the walls absorb? Do they radiate those conversations to themselves at night, in the dark and quiet?

To this order a series of recording experiments were conducted, with an aim to focus on the atmospheric and incidental sound “preset” in the MCAD MFA building when it’s at rest, of in an otherwise “chill” state of being. Using contact microphones, condenser mics, a doctor’s stethoscope, and other sound-absorbing units to amass a representation of what the building is on a given day, sort of a representative snapshot of a day in the life of this building. The experiments gathered sounds from the gallery and the building at large.

In an attempt to interpret those building “interviews” the best I could, I built a device called a Chladni plate, named after it’s creator German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni, who is sometimes called the “father of acoustics”. A Chladni plate is used to visualize soundwaves and lies within an area of natural phenomena called cymatics.

The device uses an amplifier, a 12” woofer, a square of plexi and a large 18” steel plate, on which is pulverized brick sand excavated from the crumbling MCAD MFA building. The plans for this device are freely available on the internet, in many different places. The one I based mine on is from

Structural Secrets video 1, 2018 installation video
Digital Video