Helen Mac Mahon
Video - cymatic imagery of human voice.
Audacia was exhibited in LACE Gallery Los Angeles as part of Activating Pangea - IV. Curated by Matthew Nevin and Ciara Scanlan included work by Amanda Coogan, Margaret O'Brien, Aine Phillips, Eleanor Lawler, Jane Fogarty, Laura O'Connor, Katherine Nolan and Helen Mac Mahon.
The installation Audacia is a response to the silencing of women throughout history.
The work aims to link two very significant moments in Irish history, separated by 100 years, in which the voice of Irish women brought about social and political change. 1918 was the year that Irish women won suffrage (albeit in a limited way. Women had to be landowners aged over 30 or have a university education to be permitted to vote). Irish women over the age of 21 eventually gained the right to vote four years later in 1922 at last able to exert influence over matters directly affecting them.
Audacia is also influenced by the writing of the Classics scholar Mary Beard who in her recent book ‘Women and Power’ located the first instance in classical literature of the silencing of a woman. (The book was Homer’s Odyssey and the woman was Penelope, wife of Odysseus who was silenced and dismissed by her young son Telemachus “...speech will be the business of men, all men , and me most of all; for mine is the power in this household”). She then traces the silencing of women and how it has permeated through the centuries.
The installation consists of the repetition of a simple spoken phrase ‘We will not wait’. The sound energy of this phrase was used to create cymatic imagery for this visual element of the piece. (Cymatics is the visualization of sound energy and clearly reveals the effect of sound on physical matter). The intense energetic activity created by these four simple, short words show quite literally how a voice has the ability to effect change in the material world and the potentially devastating of denying the voice of another human being.
The imagery was commissioned from the acoustic physicist John Stuart Reid creator of a device called the Cymascope. The Cymascope captures incredibly detailed energy patterns created by sound transmitted through medical grade water.
Audacia exists as a four dimensional piece – Although invisible to the eye, the imagery exists at every point in the 3-dimensional cone of light emitted from the lens of the projector to the surface on which it is ultimately projected and revealed. It also unfolds through time (the 4th dimension) with the phrase being repeated persistently like a mantra creating a rhythm in the physical space of the gallery.
The work is named Audacia, (latin for boldness, daring and courage) made more significant because its shared root Aud with audible - to be heard.
Installation view of Audacia in LACE Gallery, Los Angeles where it was exhibited as part of Activating Pangea IV - Acts to Objects in March 2018. (Image Matthew Nevin)
Still from the video piece Audacia. The image shows the energy patterns created by the human voice.