Burchfield Penney Art Center

Project Space


Artist Statement

At the heart of Unseen is a soundscape of voices from the Niagara region revealing how they have been affected by toxic waste inside their homes. The Unseen voices will fill the room describing what they see and smell, and share the physical and emotional burden that is their environment. A double height video projection of Niagara Falls will illuminate the space. The cascading water will provide a backdrop for a hyper realistic scale version of an American bungalow house perched atop a column of soil. Reality will emerge the closer you get to the house and peer inside. It feels lived-in, yet empty, like a prison cell. The TV, still glowing with interview footage casting flickering light through the translucent walls. This contrast, with it’s glowing facade and dark underlying history, reveals the subtle ways we ignore the true reality around us. This project is about your home. It is about your children, your pets, and your neighborhood. This project is about you.

Soundscape Samples

The Unseen soundscape has an arc that evolves to reveal the various ways in which we have been affected by toxic waste in our environment.

Ground Plan.jpg

Project Space Plan


8 Channels of Audio with 2 Speakers Each (16 speakers total)

30 minute loop


House Placement in the middle of space


Projection spans the Northern wall of the Project Space


Video Projection Sample

There will be two projectors mapped together to create a double height projection on the northern wall of the Project Space.

*Use volume for full experience.

Joseph House.jpg

The House

The image to the left is a traditional American bungalow house. It is also my brother’s house. He lives just outside the original evacuation zone of Love Canal. The house for Unseen will be built to reference this house and the thousands of others just like it across our country.

The house will sit in the middle of the space on a plinth of compacted soil. It will be hyper realistic in detail, but the walls will be semi transparent allowing for the wall studs, electrical etc. to all be seen almost as if its a 3D x-ray. The house will have a flickering glow, lit from within by a TV (disguised i-pad mini) playing video footage of the interviews. *See sample below. The House will be built in 3/4” = 1’ scale. Dimensions including soil plinth roughly 19'‘ W x 32” L x 65” H.

TV Video Sample

Playing on TV inside House, 5 min loop total for final video, footage taken from my Unseen Interviews.


Project Budget

Link to Budget in google docs

Project Timeline

2017 - Present: Major Tasks Accomplished

Conceptualized Project

18 in-person recorded interviews (audio/video)

Visual Design of Installation

Filming of Niagara Falls

Created a digital presence for the project via personal website, instagram and facebook.

Promotion of the work by meeting with activists, art venues and institutions and other established community members in both WNY and NYC.

Rough edit of entire 30min soundscape

2018 - 2019


Build House (4 months)

Finish Soundscape (1 Month)

Finish Falls Video Projection Editing and editing for inside house (1 Month)


Online social media (ongoing)

Write ups in UB Alumni Association Magazine, news, blogs etc. (2 weeks)

Send out mailers (2 weeks)

Install - Ready to Install in July 2019

1 Week of Install

3 days to Paint Project Space Walls

1 day Audio

1 day Video

1 day House

1 Extra Day for any troubleshooting


3 days of dismantling

Related Past Work and Exhibitions

Selected works:

chantal + chelsea, 2016 - Present. I am including this collaborative work not for it’s content, but for my technical skills of building miniatures. https://www.chantalandchelsea.com/

Missed, Ro, Buffalo, 2015. A collection of 11 paintings exploring the subtle dance between the mist of Niagara Falls and the factory smoke coming from the industrial landscape that make up the riverfront. http://chantalcalato.com/missed/

Uncensored Niagara, City of Night, Buffalo, 2014. Site specific installation. I filled a grain hopper with mounds of industrial waste and created a miniature city of houses that inhabited this man made landscape referencing the 256 documented waste sites in WNY. http://chantalcalato.com/uncensored/

Project Mist, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, 2011-2012: Concept to project a film onto Niagara Falls. Collaborated with Lynne Koscielniak (Chair UB Theatre Dept.). I wrote and storyboarded the film about Niagara’s toxic history. http://chantalcalato.com/project-mist/

The Bottle, UB Thesis Show, 2005: Site specific installation. A 5’ bottle created from pieces of bottles found in the Niagara river. The bottle is discretely labeled with the 200 known Niagara River toxins on an "ingredients label". The bottle was installed back in it's origin (the river). http://chantalcalato.com/the-bottle/