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Sounding Out Vacancy: Performing (anything but) Empty Space

Julieanna Preston

This exposition translates the intentions and experience of the 2014 performance Sounding Out Vacancy as a piece of spatial writing structured by four voices operating in unison to contest ‘emptiness’ as a condition of interior space. The seven-day performance occurred in a street-level urban central business district retail shop that, like many other ‘for lease’ properties in the city, had stood empty for several months. Its glass façade obscured from view, the performance broadcast sounds continuously from the interior space to the general public as an alternative advertisement of the shop’s availability. During the nine-to-five work day, sounds were harvested from the interior where construction hand tools and material surfaces interacted as a process of virtual renovation. While the city slept, the ambient sounds of the space persisted and put the shop’s vacancy into question.