sound art (alex keller)

The light part is called lightning (1996)

The light part is called lightning was my unofficial entry into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s 1996 BFA thesis show. An official entry would have had to meet the categories of 2D/3D art in a gallery setting, performance in a theater setting, or film/video in a cinematic setting. I could have done work in one of these categories, but I really wanted to make a taped piece and broadcast it as my thesis.

So that’s what I ended up doing. The idea for the piece had to do with making location recordings to see if I could capture essential details of these locations through re-recording and layering of the environmental sounds. I started by making cassettes in unusual places; my basement, a car in the rain, in the train tunnels. I then played back these tapes in either their original settings or different ones, and recorded that. I ended up with fourteen cassettes.

Composing work with these cassettes was one option, but I felt that randomly juxtaposing the content of the cassettes might be more revealing, and create more interesting inferences. So I created a thirty minute score, broken into one-minute blocks. For each block, I selected two pieces by drawing cards (14 cassettes, 14 cards to a suit). I threw the cassettes on, in mono, following the score, on the night of the show, with much able assistance from Philip von Zweck.