The Black Box, inspired by The Question, visually graphs the human voice with the inclusion of sound. The artist graphs an actual portions of the interviews but, unlike the original silent video installation, he allows us to listen to an anonymous participants speaking. Although we are able to understand some words, we mostly hear electronic static that shrouds the full meaning of what is being said. As we strain to listen in order to capture some of what was recorded, we are aware of the tension in the voice as one person grapples with a way to articulate innermost thoughts about Allah. We hear a part of the recording, but we cannot fully understand. Thus, the privacy of the conversation and the trust between the artist and interviewees is secure, allowing the mystery of what was privately shared to remain intact. The title of the piece refers to the “Black Box,” the recorder on an airplane, which records all conversations between the pilot and co-pilot during flight. The “Black Box” of the airplane and Al-Othman’s piece act as vessels, objects that hold knowledge and contain the private worlds or “sacred places” intimately shared between two human beings. The orange refers to the actual color of the “Black Box” recorder located in the cockpit of a plane. While the transparent blue light represents the clarity of the artist-poet’s voice, the opaque orange, where no light can shine through, is a reference to the concealed and private conversations of the Black Box.
By Curator Mary Teeling,