Open Channel is a public audio-architectural installation allowing for immersive sound experiences of audio streams. Pre-recorded streams are composed by local producers, Khairy Eibesh, Majd Al-Hamwi and Ahmad Khouja, whereas live streams are supplied by the public via bluetooth phone connection.
The idea for the project was born out of a piece of radio transmission recorded by Ahmad in the mountains of Zabadani, Syria nearly 15 years ago. Though most people are only aware of their local stations, the truth is that there is a web of signals to be heard constantly. The installation’s structure is a wooden application of the traditional vaulted arch, but in addition it is a reference to the dome of sound above our heads composed of hundreds of criss-crossing signals from all over the world.
The vault is free-standing, containing all the equipment necessary to operate enclosed within it; requiring only electricity. The architectural design is based on a parabolic vault of wooden boxes, all aligned with a point in space five meters away, roughly the height of an average person’s ear. In this way it is like a giant pair of headphones. The audio streams are routed through an eight-channel surround sound system connected to 28 individual speakers positioned throughout the 60 compartments. The remaining compartments hold lighting elements.
Open Channel was placed in Horch Beirut and Ramlet el Baida for a period of two months each where it became a point of attraction for a number of events. The lasting impact of the installation however, revolved around the everyday interactions by passers-by. Instructions for use were stenciled in Arabic and English on the structure; explaining how to connect to the bluetooth network as well as suggesting an informal time-limit so as to encourage a shared experience.
The work and its tour were made possible with the support of AFAC, Greenline, Nahnoo, and Assabil.