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Whispers of Salem

Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017 by Northshore

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and the Public Art Commission (PAC) announce an audio art installation, “Whispers of Salem,” by Livingston Sound. “Whispers of Salem” joins “Pavilion,” site-specific work using unfinished wood as the construction material by Matthias Neumann located at the corner of Washington and New Derby, and ‘From A Dark Place,’ a mural by Nate Swain and Juleen Jones, installed on a wall in Mill Hill this spring. The three public art projects are part of the PAC 2017 initiative, ‘Celebrating the Urban Environment,’ using spaces in the downtown to surprise and delight residents and visitors. “Whispers of Salem,” a mobile app for iOS and Android, brings the listener a new interpretation of a place of invented myth and lapsed memory. Exploring multiple narratives of Salem, this audio artwork synthesizes past and present within the downtown streets primarily Front Street and Charter Street. Taking context from the book Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory, the sonic experience evokes the connection to the ports of China, to the American Revolution, to the Puritan founders, and to the sound of Salem, whose waters once lapped Front Street before fill exiled the ocean. Winds blow, fifes play, a Chinese song drifts from the distance. The app is fully location-aware and each visitor can create their own personal musical composition as they stroll the streets, mixing sounds at will as they linger in the cemetery or stride down Essex. Sounds overlap, cross-pollinate, and mix in the listeners’ headphones. To download the free app, go to the App store on your mobile device and download “Whispers of Salem.” The work will be available through next spring.  “Whispers of Salem” is the second augmented reality installation this summer in Salem. Boston Cyberarts worked with the National Park Service (NPS) to produce an outdoor exhibition of large augmented reality sculpture at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.  Consisting of 10 works by 5 international augmented reality artists, the work is placed on the park site and Derby Wharf. The artists include John Craig Freeman, Boston, MA; Mark Skwarek, New York City, NY; Tamiko Thiel, Berlin, Germany; Will Pappenheimer, New York City, NY; Kristin Lucas, New York City, NY.   The works have been chosen for their artistic merit and are cognizant of the historic mission of the National Historic Site, reflecting the rich history of Salem, where the new nation's economy was built carrying cargo back and forth from the West to Asia. Salem also represents some of the fledgling nation’s earliest artistic efforts -- author Nathaniel Hawthorne worked in the U.S. Custom House in Salem.

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