“Shortly after the birth of our son I experienced what it felt like to be tethered, not only to another, to a small human body, but to a compact motor housed in a cream colored plastic box. I became interested in the automation and calibration of the body experienced through breast feeding and pumping. This feeling of being tethered, of being physically and mentally adjacent, provided a new condition for thinking and making. While grappling with my understanding of productivity and interrupted time, I found the sound of this plastic production machine itself to be generative and wandering. All of these pumps, tethered to the mixing board and amplified in my studio, provided a strange opportunity to make something unpolished, aggressive, droning, meditative, clubby, verbal, subliminal, and direct.”
PUMP SUCK is a recording in which the artist plays electric and manual breast pumps through a mixing board with contact microphones attached to the motors. Using the dials on each pump to control and manipulate the speed and rhythm of the motors, Williamson upends the original purpose of breast pumps and instead uses these productive (pump) and depletive (suck) machines as tools for amplification and distortion.
Breast pumps have a unique repetitious sound in which many women have described hearing distinct phrases while pumping. Further induced by sleep deprivation, there is a hallucinatory aspect to the recording. PUMP SUCK highlights this mechanistic verbal transmutation, isolated and combined through the mixing board. For the artist, the mixing board acts as a stand in, a wired object that reflects the tethered nature of motherhood.
Each side of the album is exactly 15 minutes, the ideal minimum length of time for a productive pumping session. [publisher’s note]