Stephen Vitiello, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Kinetic Imaging


An immersive auditory experience

A new site-specific sound installation by Stephen Vitiello, whether there was a bell or whether I knocked, will debut during Declaration, the inaugural exhibition at the Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center, VCU. Architect Steven Holl’s ICA building design is inspired by the abstraction of time and space in Jorge Borges’ story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Vitiello ties the story to auditory experience with intertwining loops of recorded and distorted tracks, each a Borges text excerpt that describes sound.

Two people looking at script in front of a microphone
Photographer: Diego Valdez (Featured SPARC student: Natalie Schwartz)

Additionally, Vitiello links Borges’ narrative through a spatialization of sound that is mixed with elements of his music, sound design, and field recordings. This immersive environment explores the overlapping territory between sound, language, and time. A cast of 17 performers serve as text readers for Vitiello’s recordings – among them are actors, a sound artist, poet, and choreographer from places as varied as New York, Ireland, Germany, Argentina and more, as well as students from the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC). Sound engineering was conducted at Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT).

This project was made possible by a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works: Media Arts grant. Photo credit: Diego Valdez, featuring SPARC student Natalie Schwartz.