Security Blanket

Security Blanket is an open-ended project in two parts: recording sessions and listening systems. It was produced in collaboration with designer Nini Hu. The recording sessions are staged in installations that recreate the familiar security of a childhood bedroom. Participants visit the room one at a time and are invited to lie down on a small white bed made up with flowered linens, read the questions in a book waiting on the pillow, and whisper their answers to a tiny hole in a false wall panel cloaked by the pattern of the room’s antique floral wallpaper. The book contains a series of questions about the different meanings and associations that we assign to the word “security,” and as visitors progress through the questions, the act of whispering in a private, “safe” room leads their answers closer to the intimacy of confession than the self-consciousness of interview. These confessions are, however, being recorded by a microphone directly behind the false wall, cabled to a concealed, voice-activated digital recorder.

Mariam Ghani, Security Blanket recording session
Security Blanket recording session (antique wallpaper, bed, custom sheets, false wall, voice-activated recorder, handmade book), 2005

The security secrets collected during recording sessions are then presented through listening systems. These installations are freestanding false walls inserted into a space, or tunnels existing onsite, which are padded with quilting foam and soft cream fabric, so that a visitor leaning against a wall is met by a comforting embrace reminiscent of a favorite blanket. The wall is also pierced with small holes around which its full softness is pulled into concavity, as if by a tiny vortex. From a few feet away, the wall seems to be indistinctly whispering. When visitors lean into the wall and put their ears right up to the holes, they can hear individual security confessions, almost as if secrets were being whispered directly into their ears. You can listen to a short excerpt of a mix of security secrets by clicking here (1.4 MB mp4 sound file).

Mariam Ghani, Security Blanket, installation view
Security Blanket listening wall (quilting foam, fabric, wood, speakers, CD players), 2006

In the two versions of the project presented to date (for the 2005 d.u.m.b.o. festival and Smack Mellon’s open studios in 2006) the recording and listening sections of Security Blanket have been staged separately. If the project were ever re-staged, we would like to configure an installation where recording and listening are happening simultaneously, either in the same space separated by a literal wall, or in two different spaces linked by radio transmission.

Mariam Ghani, Security Blanket, installation views
Security Blanket, recording session (2005) and listening wall (2006), participatory installation views