Eugene Binder reading articulation and intelligibility tests inside Donald Judd’s studio at 124 West Oak Street, Marfa, Texas.
By Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S. Davidson
The ultimate fate of sound energy is to be converted into heat. In traveling through the air, sound waves progress by an oscillation or quivering of the air that sets up a friction between neighboring air particles.
Acoustic Field Tests are articulation and intelligibility tests which give an estimation of the intelligibility of speech in a given space. It follows a protocol for an experimental procedure which documents the absorption and reflection of sound by materials.
A series of words, chosen because they contain vowels and consonants that are commonly used in the English language, is to be read in a space. Each word contains a sound chosen to be graded. The observer must recognize the test sound in order to understand the word. The sentences, each including three tests words, are questions that were never meant to be answered, only to be transmitted and witnessed by an observer. 
There are two general modes of sound recording: phonographic, preserving perceptual fidelity and telephonic, favoring intelligibility.
In July of 2015 we made recordings of these acoustic field tests for articulation and intelligibility in one of artist Donald Judd’s studios, one of the artillery sheds containing 52 of the 100 works in milled aluminum, and in 15 works in concrete situated on the Chinati land parcel in Marfa, Texas.
Just as Judd was creating specific objects avoiding any superfluous craftsmanship, we aimed to make a recording ‘faithful’ or specific to the sites. The microphone acted as a physically real observer; the recording maintains a representational coherence, albeit non-human. In cinematic terms, the sound is recorded in medium and wide shot, with no close up, maintaining a spacial signature.
This work is ongoing, and new recordings and live performances will be added in the future.
Audio recording and live performance, 2015.
1. Watson, F. R., Acoustics of Buildings. Third Edition, March, 1948.pgs. 100-107.
Une émission proposée par Melissa Dubbin et Aaron S. Davidson.