Selections from The New England Primer, an interactive sound installation by Matt Gilbert in collaboration with Ryan Peoples, investigates American approaches to childhood education as evidenced in The New England Primer, the first school textbook used in the American colonies. It taught the fundamentals of spelling and grammar through rhymes, prayers, Bible stories and cathecisms to be memorized by the students.
The exhibit includes several homemade sound controllers. Visitors are invited to interact with them, triggering samples from recordings of the Primer’s lessons and manipulating the ambient sound in the room. Also included are schoolyard recordings and samples from the 1953 instructional film for children, “How Quiet Helps Us at School”.
Selections from the New England Primer takes the lessons from the Primer—based on rote memorization, strict discipline, and Puritan values—and turns them into material for free self-directed play and investigation.
The show is up until September 29, so you’ve got about a week to check it out.