The Sunday Poem : Christine Shan Shan Hou & Audra Wolowiec’s Concrete Sound



Concrete Sound (Photos courtesy Audra Wolowiec)

Last year Gwarlingo readers responded enthusiastically to Mary Ruefle and Jen Bervin’s erasure poems. Today’s Sunday Poem features another unique project that defies categorization—a collaboration between interdisciplinary artist Audra Wolowiec and poet, critic, and artist Christine Shan Shan Hou.

In conjunction with her one-person exhibition, Concrete Sound, at Norte Maar Gallery (shown below), Wolowiec worked with Hou to create a publication that is an extension of her installation. The limited-edition artist book, also called Concrete Sound, is based on a series of email exchanges of images and text between Wolowiec and Hou over the course of a month.

The result is a beautiful, handmade book that explores the idea of call and response, as well as other sound-related themes, such as deep listening and interpersonal communication. The hand-stitched volume uses collage and vellum to great effect. The transparent pages create not only layers of text, but also layers of meaning.

“Do we want concrete?” Hou writes in the unconventional introduction, printed on a single folded page, “As if uncertainty looms unconventionally like a black skirt in the corner. Sound waves its left hand amongst tremors. The women in search of an echo may unhook themselves from the mirror…Can personal history be detached from the body?”



(Photo by Audra Wolowiec)

The limited-edition artist book, Concrete Sound, is based on a series of email exchanges of images and text between Wolowiec and Hou over the course of a month and is an extension of Wolowiec’s installation by the same name. (Photo courtesy Audra Wolowiec)



Based on acoustic foam used in anechoic chambers, Audra Wolowiec’s installation, Concrete Sound, is etymologically linked to language as explored through concrete poetry and the role it played in early communication devices. On the coasts of England, large cement domes called ‘acoustic mirrors’ once used to detect sounds from oncoming troops, now lay dormant as reminders of the tactile nature of analog technology. (Photo courtesy Norte Maar Gallery)




Hou reading-Norte Maar

Christine Shan Shan Hou reading from Concrete Sound at Norte Maar Gallery in 2011. (Photo courtesy the Norte Maar Gallery blog)



10 remaining copies of Concrete Sound are available for purchase from the authors. (Photo courtesy Audra Wolowiec)

The last 10 copies of Concrete Sound are available for purchase from the authors. (Photo courtesy Audra Wolowiec)



To better showcase Concrete Sound, I’ve made a special page on the Gwarlingo website with full-screen scans from the book. This will allow you to read the poems and view the pages in more detail.

Audra and Christine have also created a video that will give Gwarlingo readers a better sense of the project and it’s unusual features, like its vellum pages, photographs, and collages.

You’ll notice that certain text and poems appear lighter than others as a result of being viewed beneath the transparent vellum. Such subtleties don’t translate digitally, but 10 lucky Gwarlingo readers can purchase the last copies of this limited-edition book directly from the artists. (Note: The first edition of Concrete Sound has sold out, but Christine and Audra have just issued a second edition of the book, now available for purchase! The cost is $25 and includes domestic shipping. International shipping is an extra $5.) Click the PayPal button below to purchase your own copy of Concrete Sound

CONCRETE SOUND price + shipping

Click Here to Read Concrete Sound




About Christine Shan Shan Hou

Christine Hou

Christine Hou

Christine Shan Shan Hou is a poet, critic, and artist living in Brooklyn, New York. Publications include Accumulations (Publication Studio, 2010) and Concrete Sound (2011), a collaborative artists’ book with Audra Wolowiec. Additional poems appear in WeekdayEOAGH, Critical Correspondence, Bone Bouquet, and Belladonna #148. Her awards include The Flow Chart Foundation/The Academy for American Poets and the Zora Neale Hurston Scholarship. Her criticism has been published in The Brooklyn RailThe Performance ClubHyperallergic WeekendIDIOM, and Fake Pretty. For more information about Christine and her work, please visit her website



About Audra Wolowiec

Audra Wolowiec

Audra Wolowiec (Photo by Katarina Hybenova)

Audra Wolowiec is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York, whose work oscillates between sculpture, sound, text and performance. She received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and has shown work at Norte Maar, Magnan-Metz, and Art in General. Her work has been featured in The Brooklyn Railtextsound, and Thresholds (MIT Dept of Architecture). She currently teaches at Parsons in the Art, Media and Technology Department. For more information about Audra and her work, please visit her website.  

View the video and read full screen-excerpts from Concrete Sound here.

By | 2016-11-11T21:50:15+00:00 04.21.13|Images, The Sunday Poem, Words|Comments Off on The Sunday Poem : Christine Shan Shan Hou & Audra Wolowiec’s Concrete Sound

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.