top: close-up of ultrasonic speaker
bottom: installation view

Soft Ordnance

audio for LRAD ultrasonic speaker
Soft Ordnance is an audio piece designed for playback on an ultrasonic speaker, a highly directional speaker capable of focusing audio like a flashlight. This technology, originally developed by the LRAD corporation for a variety of sonic weaponry, has trickled into advertising for targeting messages directly at listeners. The work transforms this instrument of psychological warfare and marketing into small quiet encounters proposing new potentialities.

In the installation at Sculpture Center, the speaker was aimed at a brick wall, diffusing the targeted sound beam while localizing its experience. As opposed to directives of crowd control (either militaristic or advertising-based), the work aims to be at the threshold of perceptibility.

The audio includes noise recordings similar to the environment of Sculpture Center, occasionally punctured by a female voice asking a range of loose questions in relation to social organization (ie. "What is to be done? For whom? For what end? What if all that is solid melts into air?"). Inspired by the work of Max Neuhaus, occasional chimes bring attention to the work, reflecting the historical usage of bells as social organizer particularly around quantifiable labor.

Short edit of source audio: