Fascinated with the relationships between music, sound and the environment, I tend to use audio technology to produce immersive and site-specific listening experiences on headphones, in which the listener’s ability to distinguish between real and imagined sounds is blurred and manipulated.
I’m equally fascinated by the paradox of headphone listening – that on the one hand it provides the listener with very intimate and private listening experiences, while insulating the listener from their surrounding sonic environment on the other. I try to challenge this in my audio work by treating headphones more like hearing aids or sunglasses – to let the sounds of the outside world into this private listening experience while simultaneously amplifying, altering, manipulating or combining them with other sounds to create aural deceptions (trompe l’oreille) in which the listener cannot be certain if the sounds they’re hearing are from the headphones or from the outside world.
With a few exceptions, most of my work in this field has been presented within a larger theatrical/performative context, such as Bluemouth Inc’s Death By Water (2004/2008) and LENZ (2002). While listening on headphones, the audience hears just the (slightly amplified) sounds of the performers in the space, with sound and vision in complete synchronization. At other times, the sound is increasingly coloured, modulated and abstracted (through distortion, reverberation, etc.). The use of loop-delays and pre-recorded audio forces moments of de-synchronization between sight and sound. My first solo installation exploring this idea is Still(ness) Ringing (2005/6).