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Matthew Ostrowski presents Summerland

  • Laundry King 65 Main Street Livingston Manor, NY 12758 (map)

Matthew Ostrowski presents Summerland, an audio work for 24 computer-controlled telegraph sounders.

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 8, 4:00 - 6:00pm
Exhibition Hours: December 8 & 9, 11:00am - 6:00pm

Samuel F. B. Morse’s electromagnetic telegraph, commercially available in 1844, was history’s first readily available system of instantaneous communication over great distances.

The achievement of mastery over the invisible force of electricity stirred great interest in the potential existence of other forces which might offer means of communicating with points even farther removed: the realms inhabited by departed spirits. Adolescent sisters Kate and Maggie Fox reported mysterious tapping sounds in their house near Rochester, New York, which they attributed to the ghost of a murdered man buried in the basement.

In the context of contemporary magical thinking about media, Summerland looks back at the archaeology of communications, seizing from the ether the dead voices of two individuals at the tangled nexus of 19th-century information technology: Samuel Morse and Kate Fox. Attempting to reproduce their words through taps and clicks, texts from Morse’s articles on immigration and Fox’s automatic writing encounters with the inhabitants of the Summer Land are materialized in an electromagnetic séance of digitized speech.