The amazing thing about this artist research fellowship is that it really is research focused. It is intended as very early-stage support for free experimentation rather than support for the actual creation of new work that will be put on exhibit. Not having that impending deadline is really liberating and is allowing me the chance to cast the net very wide at this point. You’d think that this is the way artists always approach things – with a lot of experimentation and freedom – but my experience has been that all too often by the time any institution has agreed to let you actually create something that they will exhibit, it’s more about getting it done as proposed rather than truly experimenting.
So this is all great, but the down side is that there is no guarantee of any sort that any of the research I do now will lead to an exhibit at SI or anywhere else. I’m pretty confident it will at least indirectly have a significant influence in the direction of my future work, but of course, I would love to have the results of my research directly turn into an exhibit somewhere, hopefully here at Smithsonian.
I’ve been talking to one of the curators involved in the SARF selection process about potential projects. Apparently during the selection process, my work in general – and proposal specifically – got people thinking about a pan-art-museum audio project of some sort which could bring together the 7 art musuems that are a part of Smithsonian in some interesting way using selections from across all of their audio archives. I’ve been thinking about this idea and as I listen to more and more from the archives, the more exciting this possibility becomes.
To me, the most interesting aspect of this idea is chronology; these recordings were made varying numbers of years ago during times that were no doubt quite different from the present which is when all the recordings I’ve used in my work prior to this have come from. I’ve been listening to a bunch of older recordings and they have such an interesting sound to them due to the recording techniques and devices available at the time as well as the fact that society and culture continuously evolve, so it just sounds like it’s from another era. People speak so differently now then they did in the past. I’m not sure if this is because being recorded was more of a special occasion which led to people speaking differently than they normally would, or if people simply have changed the nuances of their communication, but it’s a really interesting difference.
I’m still tossing around various ideas in my head about this potential project, but arranging voices of artists chronologically, talking about their work, and then allowing present-day participants to add their own commentary about what they were perhaps doing in the years that the recordings were made is intriguing to me. Or maybe I ask people to compare aspects of the archival content to stuff in their lives in the present-day? I don’t know, I’m experimenting out loud!