if by sea are listening encounters located at four stops along the perimeter road surrounding Angel Island. Each stop along the sound-poetic walk addresses the complex and diverse stories embedded in the island’s narrative while staying true to the fragmentation that happens when time becomes distant from the original moment. Angel Island’s history cannot be erased but neither is it fully intact.
Language can describe or prescribe. Sometimes obvious things can carry profound meaning. What does it mean to be on an island, surrounded by sea, confined by a liquid abyss that requires special means to travel to, to escape from, or to be taken here?
Over the course of several trips to Angel Island while working on this project, I walked the perimeter road, gathering field recordings and taking photographs. The sound of the sea, and its ever-presence on the horizon were constant reminders of the complexity of travel associated with getting here. I could not assess the island's present state without recalling the various people throughout the course of history who have made passage to come here.
The word “passage” carries multiple meanings: a segment of verse, a movement in music, the act of passing the ocean in a boat or ship, and a right or freedom to pass. Angel Island is a highly symbolic place where for thousands of years, people have interacted here in ways that delve very deeply into what it means to “be present” on an island. Many of the situations that we recall from the history are hard to quantify in words.
Taking on the form (and guise) of a hybrid museum/park audio tour, seemingly ordinary sounds and poignant instances in the island's history are called into question.
- Leora Lutz, 2012