The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Singing pipes

Rachael Conlin Levy

Footsteps pop and creak on the wooden floor as we circle the scaffolding of rusty pipes twisting across the empty room, crisscrossing and cutting each other off, looping back and tying themselves into knots before sinking into floor, disappearing behind wall or ending in mid-air. We bend and place our ears near openings and discover a secret song within pipes, which are usually hidden behind the building’s skin.

Uprising @ Suyama Space

Uprising @ Suyama Space

The music is heavy in some pipes, lighter in others. Sometimes I hold my ear to a pipe and hear nothing at all. My children run their hands on the pipes that look as if they hold a hundred years of rust, but really are made from plastic and wood and paint. They feel the vibrations from the music hidden inside, while their eyes untangle the tubes in order to determine where the songs will be repeated. One of them discovers a new opening and silently gestures for me to listen to the song’s deep drone, slightly less than menacing and falling just short of foreboding, it travels through the foundation of rock and soil, through the old wood floor and into my ears.

Uprising @ Suyama Space

Uprising @ Suyama Space

I step back, listening to the room converse with my children, waiting a little longer before catching their eyes and pointing to the door. Outside, we sigh as if we’d been holding our breaths.

Wow, one says.

Did you notice how our ears became more attune to the music, so what sounded like a silent room when we entered, vibrated and hummed when we left? I ask.

Maybe someone turned up the volume, another suggests.

How long were we there? the third asks.

A half-hour.



Uprising at the Suyama Space is a collaboration between artist Rick Araluce and composer Steve Peters. It ends April 13.

2 responses to “Singing pipes”

  1. What a great shared experience.

  2. Beth says:

    This is beautiful-the uprising photo caught my breath for a moment.
    I love how your words take me there so I can hear and see your experience. Thank you, Rachael.

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