Black and white photo of Don Fels wearing headphones in a gallery space with a large plywood sculpture and several hanging pairs of headphones.

Don Fels | 7Ply: Plywood and Memory

Black and white photo of Don Fels seated on a wooden bench with a sheet of plywood in the foreground.November 29, 2001-February 28, 2002

7Ply is a sound and sculpture installation that uses plywood to create a space for thinking about how we remember who we are. Although plywood dominates the exhibition, audio is an integral part of Fels’s visual art. For 7Ply he has conducted a series of interviews that will be incorporated into a soundtrack for the exhibition. “Years ago I decided that that museums put too much energy putting up signage and visitors to museums spend too much energy looking at it,” says Fels, who has designed places to hide speakers in the installation. As visitors wander around, they hear snippets of audio related to the part of the exhibition they are looking at. Mostly, the sounds will be of clips taken from interviews Fels recorded with fellow baby boomers.

“What I found, interestingly enough, is that when I ask people to tell me about plywood when they were kids, they all look at me like I’m crazy, which I may be,” he says with a smile. “And then, two seconds later, they’re off and running with a story that they haven’t thought about in 30 years. And all I had to say was ‘plywood.’ That seems real magical to me.”

To accommodate these magical moments of  audio interviews into his installation, Fels created a series of tape loops during his participation in the Artist Support Program at Jack Straw productions.

Fels was a participant in the 1996 Jack Straw Artist Support Program.  His project, which consisted of mixing and mastering the stories heard in 7Ply, was a stimulus for the creation of the Jack Straw New Media Gallery.


Don Fels - Portrait

Donald Fels

Donald Fels is a visual artist and writer. For the past twenty-five years he has followed the trade in commodities around the world. People have always exchanged goods, and…