Alvin Lucier exemplifies what it means to lose oneself in a boundless, immeasurable, space through means of replication. “I Am Sitting In a Room” pushes you off balance and makes you feel like you are in front of a three paneled bathroom mirror, when you angle two of the mirrors so that the image of your face reflects against its reflections and your visage becomes infinite.
He starts by talking to us, the unidentified listener, telling us what he is doing. He is sitting in a room, producing a recording of his voice which he then re-records and replays, 32 times. He claims he did not create this to prove a physical fact, but to smooth out any irregularities in his voice.
The question is raised: what is the significance of replication, and when does a replicated artifact lose its original quality and become an entirely new artifact?
Listening to “I Am Sitting in a Room” gives you the same feeling that you get when you remember that pi goes on forever, 3.141592653589793238462… or when you attempt to wrap your head around the fact that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. You are simultaneously compelled and terrified by the illusion of replication, of infinity.
After 5 or 6 re-re-re-re-re recordings, his voice is inaudible and no longer human. You could map out the notes on a musical score. You are now listening to something resembles a malfunctioning microphone in an auditorium of faceless listeners, like an eerie, boring nightmare. You are listening to the sounds of a child playing with an electronic keyboard, tuneless, rhythmless. That, or a drunk person playing the accordion.
The piece that was once a clear, monotonous speech has been replicated into scattered tonalities separated by consonants echoing themselves over a silently screeching hum. His voice is lost, he is lost. We belong to the record button now.