Maggie Jensen


When the input and output channels of an instrument struggle to connect, they begin to buzz and hum. People do this too. “Mmhmming” fills uncomfortable silences, signals understanding or doubt, and brings a kind of musicality to a conversation. This particular act of humming is the result of two or more subjects, with their individual voices and desires, attempting to connect. It fills the space between utterance and comprehension. In my work, I am interested in the role expectation plays in communication. That language or form only becomes communicative if it matches what you expect from it, if you are prepared for it. I conceive of the hum as an analogy between the dysfunctional machine and human communication; a suggestion of the impact of urban mechanical sounds on our lived experience. I wish to stage a set of expectations about communication and then allow them to fall apart into noise, dissolution, or decay.

Through installations of sculpture and sound I magnify the scale of stutters or weaknesses in a system, to discombobulate our recognition of what a thing is. I over-build the work to suggest that there is more going on than we are able to attend to. I am interested too in materials that are normally used to signal permanence whereas in my work I emphasize their fragility. As temporary objects in a gallery space my work attempts to challenge the expectations about what a work of art might be. The potential for my sculptural materials to fail--to fall apart--operates similarly to the hum in my sonic works. In both cases, the anticipation for action puts pressure on the interior space of the object that at any moment could become the site of its collapse. I understand my installations to be a form of staging, where the vulnerability of the object is emphasized and movement is implied but withheld, like a form of posing.


1-2. Buzzing and Humming for You, 2018, Two-channel audio piece, linoleum tile, particle board, plywood, enamel paint, PVC pipe, EMT conduit, wireless speakers, (dimensions variable)

3. Untitled, 2019, unfired clay, wood, wire, 17” x 3” x 24”

4. Untitled (installation of four), 2019, unfired clay, wire, (dimensions variable)

5-6. Cyclops, 2019, Single-channel audio piece, plywood, steel, speaker, 30” x 54” x 120”