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Conversation between Felecia Carlisle and Olivia Ramos.
Sounding Room Exhibition, 2015
Installation: Stringpiece @ 3852 N. Miami Ave 2015
RAMOS: so nice to have you here
CARLISLE: thank you!!!
feels like it's been years since we've spoken at all
I think it has been... where are you?! still on the beach?
yup - working on my tan
so these images are amazing
it's like a fragmented violin
or a crashed boat
well maybe without the bows - seeing bows right next to the installation automatically give me the impression of a string instrument
of course i am choosing to ignore the percussion sticks
yes. it is made of piano strings and boat parts
i see now
you may ignore anything you want
no let's be fair, so how does it work?
it's made of piano wire and stainless boat railings and fittings
the wires are amplified with contact mics and sent through a mixer with effects
I can choose any effect I want and any activator.. i.e., a drumstick combined with "drum amb" effect sounds very mean and industrial while a bow combined with a "chorus" effects sounds weirdly vocal
i can play to a rhythm in a musical way or make pure noise
lots of options
that's fascinating - so then how do you choose? is your role like that of a conductor of synthetic sounds
as if the installation was a symphony - with instruments of your choosing
yes. exactly. I wouldn't say they are infinite, but the piece offers a broad range of possibilities. I am constantly learning how to play it.
I go with my ear. I go with the audience. I let the piece lead me.
I don't write compositions necessarily, or haven't yet. I like improvisation.
Learning on the job, so to speak.
do you see this as inventing a new instrument?
yes and no.
I think I am making sculpture
maybe I could call it a hybrid.
i am interested in hybrids on all kinds of levels... material, aesthetic, conceptual, performance
I am paying close attention to how people interact with it and understand it. I think what's new is that, really. It doesn't follow the rules
of course, and sound
have you thought for example, of collaborating with a composer?
I also worked with a performance/sound artist during the exhibition, Eli Lehrhoff, that works primarily in electronic sound. It was fantastic.
so then Luciano approaches the performance as an opportunity to develop a narrative within the sounds available through the installation
and the objects.
throughout the course of the exhibition, the objects move and adjust according to how the artists want to interact with them
Sounding Room is a space for us to play together. It was intended to be that more than a static sculpture exhibition.
All the artists/participants/collaborators have some investment in sound within their individual practices.
and.. yes to the question of narrative
this is really exciting - the image that comes to mind is that of an official conductor, tuxedo and all - walking onto center stage, hitting the tripod with his conductor stick and then going crazy on the installation
this can happen... or a naked man can climb a mountain of wooden boxes and play a musical saw.. how knows what will happen, really? We all have been having conversations long distance, but we don't really make the work.. create a narrative until we are together for one day before the performance.
there's a lot of risk involved.
yes which brings me to my next questions
do the musicians know what sounds to expect?
as in which string is connected to which sound?
from my sculpture in particular?
no. it's really fun to watch people discover that. I started in the studio, inviting people over for "Whiskey and Noise"... It was so fun when the room took on a life of it's own and I could just sit and watch other people's catharsis!
people follow their intuitions... something that is missing I think in the experience of art that is coming from academia
so it is an apparatus for improvisation
instead of an instrument in a conventional or scientific sense
It can be yes. or it can be an object with potential
yes i think it has a lot of potential
electronic music is usually played via computer
yes.. I am not following the rules of music in the Pythagorean sense.. I'm breaking them
so this is an opportunity to move as you would with a conventional instrument while making electronic noise
yes, this is an acoustic instrument that is amplified electronically
and that sound can be filtered through digital processing and get even more crazy.. which is what Eli did to it live
but beyond that - amplified electronically - there are synthetic sounds attached to the amplification
you mentions, the sound of an audience before
any sound can be attached
is that correct?
oh no.. the sound is generated from the vibration and only then is it filtered through an effects system. the strings are not attached to any recording or sample if that's what you mean
ok this is what you said "I can choose any effect I want and any activator.. i.e., a drumstick combined with "drum amb" effect sounds very mean and industrial while a bow combined with a "chorus" effects sounds weirdly vocal"
yes. the mixer has the effects. the signal from each of the mics goes into the mixer and then to the speakers..
so essentially, and let me see if i get this right, each string can ultimately make a different "voice" sound
and the entire installation can be a chorus
yes, if separate strings are played simultaneously but "chorus" as I referred to it above is a name of one of the effects... sorry.. it gets confusing
well innovation can be confusing at first
yes it can
i'm just fascinated by the idea of having a chorus or symphony as an installation
I have been for a while, myself. I once made a "symphony of my breath" by playing my breath sounds from a classroom full of computers. I moved away from digital though, because of the expense... but if I had lots of money, I would definitely move back in that direction or some combination of both digital and analog forms
right, i was just going ask how you see yourself moving forward
do you imagine allowing people to have this at their home somehow - which then would leave the realm of art a bit - or perhaps it would expand it
Well, I have a lot of pots stirring right now. Emerson Dorsch and I are looking at offering smaller scale commissions for people's homes and I am applying for grant funding to do large scale works.. my grand scale dream is to fill a room with this and bring musicians/artists/composers to work with me.
I am interested in art as a generative and cooperative practice.. I like the idea that sculpture could be temporal, active, performative. and that it could actually produce other forms, like recordings, images like the ones I sent you, and who knows what else..
also, the string piece can be made for specific contexts, like "columns of air" at Vizcaya in December 2014
architecture is very important to the shape of the piece
and the sound
right - the piece can become invisible depending on the architecture
yah.. i'd love to work with an architect to design something...