Monday, December 21, 2009

Exploring space as it presents itself

Guest Blogger:
David Moré

I’m interested in sound, and often what I make, makes sound.

This can be problematic in that sound travels, sound quite actually penetrates walls. Often times, other people live on the opposite side of the walls in which I am working and I would really rather not get on anyone’s nerves. With this in mind, working with audio has been at times trickyAs a person that makes sound, working in a home studio can be a bit of a problem. Maybe I worry too much, but I partially attribute the fact that I’ve never learned how to play a properly bowed, plucked, or hit instrument, to the fact that I have no interest in subjecting anyone to my stumbling, furtive attempts to do so. Often I work with small sounds and electronics, things whose volume can be controlled, or listened to on headphones.

A month or so ago, my friend Alex and I were fortunate enough to have an exhibition up at Gallery 400. Though I suppose, in terms of being fortunate, I can only speak for myself, because my friend Alex is a fish. Fish need to be taken care of, the aquarium water needs to be changed, they need to be fed, etc. In order to fulfill my obligation to Alex, the gallery was nice enough to allow me twenty-four hour access to the gallery where Alex remained for the duration of the exhibition. 

I should explain a little bit about Alex. She is an elephant nose fish from a river in Central or Western Africa. Her species cannot breed in captivity, so she was, quite actually, born somewhere in Africa. Her home territory is murky water, and somewhere in the elephant nose species' evolution they developed an extra sense: electro-location. Alex emits a constant pulse of electricity which builds a field around her. Disturbances in this field she can interpret as obstacle, mate, or food. This naturally occurring pulse can be easily amplified, made audible, simply by placing speaker wire in the aquarium water, and plugging that wire into an amplifier. 

So I started a band with my pet fish. Which is brilliant, right? I’m not a musician, just a dude interested in making sound, and Alex is not a musician, just a fish producing a constant signal as a navigational tool, which can be conveniently made audible. What better band mates?

Alex and I would practice, usually after hours, at the gallery (and I assure you, I need the practice). A favorite instrument to play in the gallery alongside Alex became a viola borrowed from my friend Kelly.  If you happened to stop by the gallery, Alex could be heard finding her way around a thirty-gallon aquarium, and I would be heard trying to find my way around a viola. Without having to worry about the neighbors, I would listen to how the sound of these actions came together, and changed as I walked around the space in accordance with the architecture and volume. It was helpful, having the opportunity to practice where and when I’m pretty sure no one else could hear us. I was able to make as much noise as I liked. The gallery provided me with the studio space I wanted, and do not normally have.  It just happened to be a very public, open studio during the day.

Alex has since moved back to my apartment, seems well, and we continue to practice often. I am always interested in meeting new collaborators. Interested in improvising with a fish? Get in touch: We will just have to play quietly.

David Moré was born outside Chicago, left for some twelve odd years, and moved back to the area round about three years ago. He will likely leave again, someday, it’s nothing personal, it’s just that this world is immense, and endlessly fascinating. For now he is very, very grateful for just how nice this city has been to him.

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