The above video is freaking amazing.
Soundscapes and American history
Sound Artists Create Music from Sally Hemings’ 200 Year Old Bell
Lewisburg, PA – February 29, 2012
Husband and wife artists-duo, Mendi + Keith Obadike were commissioned by Bucknell University’s (Lewisburg, PA) Griot Institute for Africana Studies and the Samek Art Gallery to create a new piece, American Cypher: Stereo Helix for Sally Hemings, about American founding father and 3rd president Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave. Jefferson and Hemings have been rumored (by political rivals and Hemings’ own children) since the early1800s to have had some kind of an affair. In 1998 DNA evidence linked Hemings’ offspring to the Jefferson family, proving centuries-old rumors, controversial scholarship, and oral history about their relationship to be true. The artists took this issue of DNA testing as inspiration for a pubic sound art work. They made original recordings of Hemings’ last surviving possession, a small bell given to her by Martha Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s wife and Hemings’ half sister) that is on exhibit today at Jefferson’s Motnicello mansion in Virginia. From these digitally altered recordings they created a soundscape that is currently playing in Bucknell University’s student center. The artists attached flat panel speakers to robotic arms in two stairwells in order to create a double-helix pattern with the sound, mimicking the shape of DNA. This exhibition open Feb 29th and closes April 30th at Bucknell University.