Robyn Backen

Incidental Mur-murings | 2015



about the work

…mur, the French-sounding word for wall. Mur: the sound of a wall of indistinguishable sounds…

…Mur-mur; yes, it is a little movement that goes to and fro, up and down. Mur-mur, mur-mur: yes, it is an echo, a vibration, a periodic repetition, a little rhythm. Mur-mur, mur-mur, mur-mur, yes, it is a little refrain that gets the tempo going, a little flicker of time.

How do we decipher which is public and what is private? Did we really hear someone say that or did we just hear ourselves think that? What is out loud, allowed? What is that noise - leaves dropping or eaves dropping?

Inside the shop, windows act as membranes, an acoustic diaphragm, or simply a site in plain view, where listening to external sounds of the street is sometimes actually ‘eavesdropping’ on the passing community. It is a place where you can hear but not necessarily be heard. Shared and unshared words flare up and die down settling in our feeling, thinking and knowing.

Outside the shop,…a shared public path is a place for simple promises of connectedness. Walking up and down the street directs and instigates private conversations between friends, neighbours, family, co-workers and the occasional stranger.

Across the street,…inside a car, windows are open or closed, amplifying internal and external sounds that travel and echo making what we think we heard indistinguishable and defined.

The window, the street and the car are interconnected transmitters and receivers, and a mur-mur is heard: inside, outside, a chorus of its own tempo, its echo fluctuating in the vibration of the trees.

Incidental mur-muring driving us to act more than we think…

Sounding the Event, Escapades in Dialogue and Matters of Art, Nature and Time by Yue Lomax, p16-17


Incidental Mur-muring is located in a pair of shop windows on Angus St and in a car on the opposite side of the street. The work plays with the site as a place of connection, transmission, collection and incidental conversations relating specifically to the street. Voices of the air fly in for the tweet of the day.

Materials | Tree , Car, Glasses. Sticks, audio, amplifier,
Location |
car tree and audio
car tree and audio