© photo: Jessica Theis
Music While You Work
20-channel sound installation, black rubber mats and safety stickers
Casino Luxembourg – Forum d'art contemporain, Luxembourg
‘Music While You Work’ was a BBC radio program in the UK created to improve the productivity and morale of factory workers from 1940 until 1967. Commissioned by Casino Luxembourg in 2010, my project Music While You Work is a social intervention that sets out to investigate an industrial workplace of mundanity and peculiarity in Luxembourg-- a country of an obscure industrial past and present-- through a microphone and a pair of headphones.

In collaboration with eight factories, I collect sounds generated by daily activities of the workers from making steel, casting furnace to producing dairy and pastry on the shop floor. Instead of the original plan of working alongside the workers to co-produce a soundscape, because of the language barrier and the lack of adequate training on my end, I become an active listener who is given access to be immersed within their multifarious sonic universe. This universe is both work and life to its inhabitants.

You can close your eyes, but can’t close your ears”, the retired steel worker Gino Pasqualoni tells me poignantly. Having grown up myself in a sugar factory complex in the central Taiwan, Mr. Pasqualoni’s words resonate with me deeply.

The resulting audio recordings constitute a twenty-channel sound installation at Aquarium @ Casino Luxembourg, where the audience is invited to ponder how sounds make us live and work together.

Panelux, June 2010 © video still: Yann Tonnar

ArcelorMittal, June 2010. Photo by Christine Walentiny