The Prize was established in 2013 to promote a broad range of contemporary American sound and Installation arts. Artists working within the sonic arts such as sound installation, sound sculpture, sound poetry, soundscape, robotics, net art and similar may submit one work each for consideration. The prize is open to any individual of any age who is a permanent resident or citizen of any North, Central and South American country. The prize will include $1,000 USD.
In anticipation of the encroaching deadline for the 2016 FETA Prize in Sound Art (extended deadline November 20: APPLY here), we are showcasing last year’s recipient Bryan Jacobs, and his works and thoughts on Sound Art in an interview with Catalina von Wrangell.
Who is Bryan Jacobs?
Composer, performer, and sound artist, Bryan Jacobs’ work focuses on interactions between live performers, mechanical instruments and computers. His pieces are often theatrical in nature, pitting blabber-mouthed fanciful showoffs against timid reluctants. The sounds are playfully organized and many times mimic patterns found in human dialogue. Hand-build electromechanical instruments controlled by microcontrollers bridge acoustic and electroacoutic sound worlds. These instruments live dual lives as time-based concert works and non-time-based gallery works. Jacobs, a Guggenheim Fellow, has been lucky enough to have his music and sound art presented at a number of festivals around the world.
A Discussion with Bryan Jacobs.
I had the privilege of speaking with Bryan last week, at which point we discussed everything from robots to audiences. Here is a snapshot of our conversation:
Catalina von Wrangell: Who is your ideal viewer/listener?
Bryan Jacobs: People who want to observe music from an alternate perspective and explore the slightly uncomfortable edges. I’ve been focused on working with communities of creators like Ensemble Pamplemousse and Qubit who share work over the course of many years and are constantly learning from one another.
CVW: What is the role of sound art in a culture that is primarily visually oriented?
BJ: My work does involve visual elements although the aural elements are more of a focus. Whether the work is for a gallery or a concert hall, visual or aural, the words I’m most interested in are: community, playful, improvisatory, challenging, and inventive.
CVW: How do you think about the time and space interaction in sound art?
BJ: It’s difficult to know what is included in the category of sound art but here’s what I can say in respect to my own work. My gallery work is often an extension of concert music and deals with time and form the way time-based compositions do (recurrence of materials, variation, development, etc) even though viewers might experience the piece in any duration they choose. I often think of the sound art sculptures as a new exploration of extended techniques. In particular, I concentrate on the unique ability of automatic instruments to perform with uncanny speed, precision, and stamina.
Many of my works are kinds of non-linguistic dialogues. They use space, often in an antiphonal manner, to suggest that the viewers might be watching hybrid robot-instrument-animals trying to learn how to communicate with one another.
CVW: What is the place of sound art in your own musical trajectory? Could you give an example of upcoming projects?
BJ: While my previous projects concentrated on automated robotic sound production, my recent projects reintroduce humans back into the process enabling hyper human mechanical performances. These works explore the possibility of collaboration between machine and human.
I am currently working on a composition for hybrid clarinet in which a human controls part of the instrument while a computer controls the other. Part of the idea here is that both parties would be giving away some of the control. How will this affect the character of the performer and ultimately, the character of the performance? I hope the opportunity of interacting with these hybrid performers may lead to new meanings.
CVW: Thank you Bryan for your time and thoughts! It was really a great pleasure to speak with you, tackle these questions, find some answers, and better yet find more questions. We are looking forward to your new sound art adventures!
To find out more about Bryan Jacobs and his work, please visit his website and the following project links:
Subwhistle, the winning work of 2015 FETA Prize in Sound Art
If you would like to participate in this year’s FETA Prize in Sound Art, click here.
Catalina von Wrangell, Program Director at FETA
Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts is a 501c3 established to support the creation and production of new forms of time based art, sound art, electronic music, and performance. We support both individuals and organizations as well as special ongoing projects that include the FETA Sound Art Prize, Golen Gallery Street Festival, and the Twelve-Nights series.
At this time we do not accept direct solicitations or requests for funding, but organizations and artists may apply through the FETA Sound Art Prize and our active projects.