Labor Camp Study Room : C
Altered furniture, electronics, sound, video, painted cloth, audio CDs, and printed matter
Installation at the Idea Center, Cleveland
Labor Camp Study Room : C is part of a larger series of work by Szyhalski, Labor Camp Orchestra, in which Szyhalski remixes audio based on various archival audio sources in the Labor Camp Library of Historical Research, a database created by the artist over many years, which includes recordings of a 911 call from inside the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, Nazi military commander Heinrich Himmler, and the trial of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
For Labor Camp Study Room : C Szyhalski transformed a school desk into a circuit board reminiscent of an old-fashioned telephone switchboard (Fig: 1). By moving the plugs to connect the different circuits, the viewer controls forty unique sound compositions based on the archival source recordings, which can be listened to directly through the headphones on the floor, using the switches on the back panel of the desk.
For the artist, these disparate artifacts of actual events constitute what he calls "extreme historical phenomena." These direct, unedited documents offer a picture of the German term Weltschmerz, meaning "world-pain" or the feeling of sadness when thinking about the wrongs and horrors of the world. This map of cruelty, pain, and suffering, which requires our participation, suggests that with attention and reflection we might know ourselves better.