There are a few characteristics of bridges as a general symbol and the Brooklyn Bridge in particular as a cultural icon that make it an attractive space to hold a public intervention. Bridges are transitory, liminal spaces connecting two distinct locations: crossing them is an event, an act of moving between. On a practical level, bridges facilitate transportation. As a social space, they induce personal reflection, as well as many opportunities for passive and active contacts. The Brooklyn Bridge in particular is very powerful in its capacity to stimulate dynamic interaction across diverse types of relationships between people and their environment.

Our concept for this intervention, like the bridge, connects a range of themes and ideas, and permits a number of different readings. Ultimately, we wanted to offer visitors another way to interact with the bridge on its literal, cultural, and metaphorical levels. This new form of interaction would enhance visitors own narrative with the bridge and, by extension, the city. Specifically, we wanted to make heard what is usually overlooked. To do this, we decided to use a specific type of condenser microphone called a contact microphone. Made from piezo discs, contact microphones act as transducers: they convert vibrations into electrical energy that can then be amplified and heard. General usage includes speakers, buzzers, guitar pickups, etc. The resulting sound is an extremely magnified version of even the slightest movement. This confirms a listener’s sensation that sound is both heard and felt. In this way, we could exploit the unused vertical space and capture the dynamic range of bridge sounds.

In collaboration with Caitlin Morris.

Bridge Whispers was exhibited at the 2011 CIANT enter5 Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. Our entry page for ENTER 5 international art | sci |tech biennale prague is here.

Download the post-mortem paper here.