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Stephen Vitiello: All Those Vanished Engines

  • Exhibition

  • On view seasonally
  • The Speedway

Closed for the season, reopens May 2017

Sound artist Stephen Vitiello created All Those Vanished Engines especially for the MASS MoCA Boiler House. This building is a relic from the industrial past of the site and was once used to heat the factory campus the museum now inhabits. Starting with the inherent resonance of the pipes and metal drums in the space, Vitiello composed a layered sound installation that can be explored throughout the building.

The narrative and title for All Those Vanished Engines comes from a commissioned text by novelist Paul Park. (Read it here.) The story serves as the thematic structure and blueprint for Vitiello’s installation. The text and concepts consider a possible reading of the building as a façade for a secret, experimental project to explore the industrial production of sound. Told by two narrators visiting a fictional Boiler House worker, Park’s story recalls the history of the building as both a producer of sounds and a structure haunted by its production. Park writes: “After all, sound was what had animated the entire structure, in memory and in the actual past, and was still animating it, for example, right now.”

StephenVitielloVitiello utilized Park’s text in order to bring back to life the sounds of the Boiler House’s “vanished engines,” mixing ambient sound within haunting excerpts from the story. As visitors move through the space, the soundscape is ever changing, and, at any given moment, sounds may move towards the listener or fade away, alternating between moments of clatter and calm. This is a space to spend time in, exploring the building’s unique character as Vitiello’s audio washes over you.

All Those Vanished Engines is a long-term installation, open seasonally from May to October.

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