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Andrew Demirjian | Echoes of Liberation
ECHOES OF LIBERATION: SONIC REFLECTIONS ON THE TAKEOVER OF CONKLIN HALL
A sonic monument created by artist Andrew Demirjian and Rutgers University-Newark Students.
Echoes of Liberation honors members of the Black Organization of Students (BOS), who advocated for greater inclusivity in enrolling students and hiring professors at Rutgers University-Newark during the late 1960s. The audio consists of interviews conducted in the fall of 1991 by Gilbert Cohen with BOS members who were active during this period including Joseph Brown, Vickie Donaldson, Richard Roper, and Vivian Sanks-King. Echoes of Liberation is a collaborative project that thematically excerpts these interviews and spatially maps them to sections of the campus to allow visitors to hear the reflections of BOS members about the liberation of Conklin Hall, its planning and aftermath. The sustained actions of BOS members had a significant impact on the process of making RU-N one of the most diverse campuses in the United States. The interview excerpts were played into the architecture of the campus with speakers and re-recorded so the listener hears the voices of BOS members echoing off the walls where they are standing.
There are four sections of audio, thematically grouped and placed in different sites in Norman Samuels Plaza, that play automatically based on your location in the plaza. The pathway between Hill Hall and Paul Robeson Campus Center from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. into the plaza is the ‘infinitive verb alley’ consisting of the infinitive verbs that were used by BOS members to describe their actions and process. On the plaza side of Paul Robeson Campus Center (the name change instigated by BOS members) is the ‘audio walk of fame’ section where BOS members recite the names of the members who took part in the liberation of Conklin Hall. The northeast section of Paul Robeson Campus Center, with overhanging roof and outdoor seating, is the ‘cantilever questions’ section. In this area, questions that BOS members asked themselves and each other are heard. Finally, in the fourth section of the plaza, ‘foundations and forking paths,’ the listener hears BOS members discuss the books, authors, activists and philosophers who had an impact on their thinking. The interview excerpts were played into the architecture of the campus with boomboxes and re-recorded so the listener hears the voices of BOS members echoing off the walls where they are standing.
Production of the Audio AR app Echoes of Liberation began during sound artist Andrew Demirjian's Spatial Sound Seminar for Newark Rhythms in the 2019 Spring semester. The RU-N and NJIT students who participated in the selection and production of the piece include Chathurthi De Silva, Julia Marotta, Reynier Matias, Lauren O'Brien, Walter Rice and Courtney Rone. Other students who attended the seminar sessions were Conor Coll, Hilda Dzietror, Christina Furlow, Laura Gould, Taffy Lashley, Ebony Payne, Sam Robers, Tia Ryans and Nick Vitone. Prof. Kate Doyle also participated in the seminar and production of the work.