Pair of Panels

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PERIPHON

2007

Periphon is a pair of concrete sound reflectors similar to sound collection devices built along the British coast during World War II as an early form of radar. The installation reconnects two areas of the library that were isolated acoustically—but not optically—by a glass partition. The result is the aural equivalent of a periscope, allowing conversation across the partition to take place through the act of voice-throwing, producing an uncanny orthogonality between sound production and sound reception.

The installation is made up of two concrete shells. Each shell is a fragment of a different paraboloid, sharing a common focus and axis but differing in focal length in order to account for the skewed geometry of the library's floor plan. Despite their very different lengths and curvatures, the shells are acoustically symmetrical: an incoming sound wave that hits the outermost point on the long shell is reflected through the focus to the innermost point of the short shell, at which point it is reflected out parallel to the axis once again.

Periphon was part of the exhibition sounded() at the Princeton University Mendel Music Library. It was published in Pidgin 6.

Collaboration with Howard Huang and Ajay Manthripragada.