A NY Times reporter recently used the word "chatter" to describe current activity on the internet among anarchist groups preparing for the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC. The "level of chatter" was cited by the Times reporter as a means to estimate the number of anarchist individuals expected to visit NYC during the RNC and to gauge the intensity of their anticipated protests. Chatter is also the word used to describe the information sharing that goes on among terrorists as they plan attacks on the US and other targets. As the level of terrorist chatter rises, so does the level of the homeland security color alert system and related fears and anxieties. By tapping into and deciphering these secret and intangible chatter streams those who would protect us create the illusion of the negation of threat.
But there is another thing: Trees and buildings, fountains, clocks and graveyards - solid artifacts of urban spatial and temporal expansion that are fixed and without perceived intelligence or memory. Mute objects that fill up the spaces they inhabit with an experience of sameness, even as they transform themselves, visibly and plainly, from season to season and year to year.
Within this landscape of inanimate placeholders there exists an even more hidden chatter stream - a chatter stream that relies on a lexicon of soundings informed by the flow of energy from point a to point b, the reflection of waves off of surfaces and the absorption of human states of being. Through the use of live microphones, a database of previously collected information and voice recognition algorithms based on the grammatical rules of the universal language of Esperanto, the chatter streams in the area surrounding City Hall Park, in lower Manhattan, are translated into audible sonic structures, revealing the conversations we've not heard.