Anchorage, Babel in Reverse is a site-specific installation by artists Joseph Morris and Owen Trueblood in collaboration with the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) that features the voices of hundreds of speakers of endangered languages spoken throughout the city of New York.
Using hanging electronic speakers, the artists will dedicate each speaker to a single audio recording of a language documented by the ELA. As people approach the installation, the sound is a whispering babel, with hundreds of recorded voices speaking hundreds of languages. However, as one walks beneath the speakers, the babel fades, and individual voices and languages are heard. As participants move through the installation, speakers sense their location, fading in and out to only play the audio of the speaker they stand beneath, allowing them to hear the voices of New Yorkers reciting stories, poems, and fables of languages we’re accustomed to hearing as well as the hundreds of voices that NYC is expected to lose in a generation or two.
Renderings by Joseph Morris and Owen Trueblood