Echo Chamber

Emma Silverblatt & Ryan Whitby

Visiting Critics, Dept. of Architecture, Cornell AAP

Emma Silverblatt and Ryan Whitby are visiting critics at Cornell AAP and the co-founders of POST-, a multi-disciplinary design firm oriented towards “whatever comes next.” By expanding the boundaries of the architectural profession to include technology, media, art, and human interaction, POST- seeks to reinvent the practice and process of spatial production, in search of new ways of fostering conscious participation, co-creation, and equitable built environments.

Conceived for this exhibition, Echo Chamber is an immersive, interactive installation that seeks to draw awareness to the paradoxical isolation of self-expression.

In spaces without possible disagreement, does self-expression “make a sound?” The freedom of expression facilitated within venues such as algorithmically-selected internet spheres may serve to reiterate our beliefs, but places where challenge through respectful, healthy and necessary debate is possible have become much harder to find. Echo Chamber serves as a cautionary tale and a reminder that a primary duty of a university is to uphold an environment for freedom of expression, not in expectation of universal agreement, but rather to enable respectful debate. By physically isolating the participant and creating a soundscape from their reflected, distorted words, the participant experiences a visualized reality of the distortion possible in their own personal echo chamber. This installation paradoxically suggests that the most direct value of our words, thoughts, and ideas may lie in interactions with others, particularly with those who believe differently than ourselves.

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