Photo by Jason Kolsch | Rachel Devorah Rome, documentation of Absence (2013) for Emergency Index

Rachel Devorah Rome

Spring 2020 Visual Artist Resident

Artist Statement

How do we construct/situate our selfhoods with/in sound and space? What role does listening have in our senses of being and belonging? How do audio technologies factor into our listening practices?

I seek to reveal and reframe the habits of attention that inform our processes of auto-echolocation in pursuit of answers to these questions.

Tell us about your BCA artist residency project.

Meteorologists forecast weather events by monitoring water vapor in certain atmospheric spectra bands. In the global climate crisis, forecasting extreme weather has become a matter of life and death.

In March 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned off the 24 GHz spectrum band for 5G telecommunications. The auction process, called “Spectrum Frontiers,” collected nearly $2 billion in bids.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) warn that use of the 24GHz spectrum for 5G will significantly reduce the quality of the water vapor monitoring transmissions used for hurricane track forecasts. Acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs testified before congress that the 5G usage limits set around the 24 GHz spectrum “would degrade the forecast skill by up to 30%…This would result in the reduction of hurricane track forecasts’ lead time by roughly two to three days.”

In August 2019, Verizon Wireless installed a 5G tower at the corner of Tremont and Waltham streets in front of Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). Siren is a sonic installation which downconverts local 5G spectra into the audible range and mixes it with the sounds of hurricane sirens in real time.

Tell us what inspires your work, and how that is expressed in your process and/or in the work you are making.

I started going to a Quaker meeting when I moved to Boston, Beacon Hill Friends House. It is an “unprogrammed” meeting where we sit in silence until one of us is moved to speak. What I’m learning about listening and patience with this religious practice is informing my creative practice.

What about your process is uniquely you?

My 20+ years playing French horn informs everything I do on an atomic level.

Tell us about an art experience in Boston that made a lasting impression? Or, tell us about a piece of art in your home/studio that you love.

Non-Event’s Sarah Davachi/Katarina Miljkovic show at the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum was one of the first concerts I went to when I arrived in Boston, and it immediately made me feel like Boston was home.

Who does your art speak to? Are there communities you work within?

It is my favorite when younger women and girls come up to me at an event and pepper me with questions about the technology I am using.

Tell us your biggest art blooper moment.

When my spouse, Carl, and I first started dating, I had a solo horn+electronics show where I forgot to bring my horn’s mouthpiece! Carl *sprinted* to my apartment and back to retrieve my mouthpiece for me. I learned that everyone needs a good roadie and that I had found mine.