(Photo Courtesy Mad Rooster Design)
Alex Keller is an audio artist, sound designer, curator and teacher based in Austin, Texas. His work in the media of performance, installation, and recorded release 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, has won awards for his creative work from the Austin Critics Table, Austin Chronicle, the City of Seattle, Puget Sound Transit, and Jack Straw Productions. He speaks regularly at academic, commercial and fan events about his creative and commercial work, and holds regular workshops on creative and technical methods. In 2018 he was the keynote speaker at the University of Texas’ Digital Field Methods Institute conference.
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, serves on the boards of several arts organizations, and hosted Commercial Suicide, Texas’ longest-running experimental music program, for eleven years.
- 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
My work explores tension: in relationships, within and between materials, in the attention of an audience. I use disciplines such as technical troubleshooting, field recording, research, or random number generation to support my approach. I embrace learning disciplines and try to introduce new ones into any project. This has involved interviews, constructing electronic devices, and urban exploration, as a few examples. The result is usually a finished piece of audible art, perhaps savage, broken or wrong, but art as the result of the process I’ve committed to.
I’m interested in working within the real world. A lot of my work has used the filters of gentrification, urbanization, acoustic ecology, or the anthropocene to gain perspective. Recent outreach events with Phonography Austin like soundwalks and workshops have helped empower other artists and raise awareness of acoustic ecology issues. I’m interested in architecture and other real spaces: as a source of found sounds, as a way to transform sounds through a real space, and as a place that memories and ideas can metaphorically inhabit.
Field recording is a main preoccupation of mine. I like the Burroughsian practical magic of relocating one place’s space and time to another, and am not certain that this process is always safe. I like the idea that a well-placed microphone can reveal secrets in the artist’s daily sound world that are much more compelling than a recording of the exotic and faraway. Art comes from intention, not novelty.
Not all audible arts are musical. I enjoy presenting work in musical environments opportunistically, but do not use musical constraints or intention. In live performances I reject the use of commercial or consumer musical tools, as the expectation they set with the audience is one I don’t want to satisfy.
Any of these ideas have manifested themselves as installations, performances, recordings, soundwalks, workshops, and places in between.