(Photo Courtesy Mad Rooster Design)
Alex Keller is an audio artist, sound designer, curator and teacher based in Austin, Texas. His work is in the media of performance, installation, and recorded release, and reflects his interests in architecture, language, abstraction and music.
He is an active audio production professional, has taught classes in media production at the Art Institute of Austin, Shoreline College, and the Art Institute of Seattle, and has won awards for his creative work from the Austin Chronicle, the City of Seattle, Puget Sound Transit, and Jack Straw Productions.
Alex received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and an MLA from St. Edward’s University in 2005. He is a founding member of Phonography Austin and the Mimeomeme collective and is the former host of Commercial Suicide on Austin’s KOOP Radio, central Texas’ longest-running experimental sound and music program.
- Austin Chronicle Best of Austin Critic’s Pick (2009 and 2013)
- Nomination for Best Public Art in the Austin Critic’s Table (2009)
- Sound Transit Public Art Program Finalist (1998)
- Seattle Arts Commission Performing Artist Award (2001)
- Jack Straw Foundation Artist Assistance Award (1998)
- MLA, St. Edward’s University (2005)
- BFA, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995)
- Internship with Experimental Sound Studio (1994-1995)
- Phonography Austin
- Mimeomeme Collective
In my work I explore contrasts: the tension between the organic and the inorganic, the quiet and the loud, the bright and the dark, the musical and the non-musical. Confusing two contrasts is an interesting technique. What sort of sound piece can have musical qualities without being deliberately musical? What makes a sound feel like it was created organically, instead of electronically?
Low technology sound sources, from cassettes to toys, intrigue me. The work that I do is not about technological development, but about the creative use of any sound source. I have performed with a laptop in the past, and like that it raises questions about the nature of performance, but right now I have a problem with the technology being completely absent in live performance.
Some of my work has been released on CD, but I think that’s one of the least interesting ways to hear sound work. A simple recording is almost too open of a way to release sound work, and refers too much to the pop music tradition. Installations, while harder for an audience to access at the time and place of their choosing, are more effective ways to present sound work in its own context.
While I’ve always been interested in presenting sound pieces as abstractions, I’ve never believed that it is possible to really abstract sounds from their sources or any other reference. Some recent work I’ve done has used manipulated musical recordings to make tonal musical pieces. I’ve avoided working in a musical context for a long time and am excited to come back to those ideas.
I’ve always been interested in suburban and urban architecture, and the spaces that people live and work in. While making public art is as much administration as creativity, I’m considering a few pieces in the public arena. In 2009 I curated an exhibition, Recreating the domain, that worked with artist’s impressions of and takes on the north Austin mixed-use development, the Domain, and am looking at a few options for an augmented reality follow-up.