If you have ever heard someone play a Buddhist singing bowl, you know “the singing sound is remarkable, a powerful, long-lasting harmonic hum that can be invigorating and calming at the same time.” Sine Body is a sound piece created by Julianne Swartz. Inspired by the Buddhist singing bowl, Swartz “plays” her ceramic and glass vessels, utilizes electronic feedback, and the movement of air in and out of the vessels, to create a tone that is unique to each vessel (body). On Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Museum of Art and Design Swartz performed Sine Body with vocalist Esteli Gomez.
I have included a short video clip from the performance.
1. Tell us a bit about your background coming to work with sound as a medium.
I came to work with sound through other ephemeral materials that had presence without a defined physical body: light and air. Sound was a logical next step, and it was also a material that could carry direct emotional content. My first works with sound used dated pop songs to access memory and association, and then recorded voice for the sentiment and emotion it could carry. Simultaneously, I was exploring acoustic transmission methods: sound contained in pipes to move through buildings, deliberate containment and leakage, and transmutation through physical materials.
More recently, I’ve been interested in sound as a physical entity. I’ve shifted (for now) from mining sound for is emotion and affect to exploring the energy it carries. Right now I’m interested in vibrations that can be seen or felt as well as, or sometimes instead of, heard. Listening is a motivation for my work. With each work, I ask how I might engage my audience to listen with attention and duration. Right now, I’m seeking to create a different kind of listening: not just with the ears, but with the body.
2. In what ways do you consider sound “material” and explore that through your practice?
Sound can be directed, molded, and conducted. Though not visible, it can be given perceivable form when it is deliberately contained and released in objects and in spaces.
Recorded voice can be an extension of the body and a surrogate for it. The sound of the voice extends beyond the boundaries of the individual, a material extension of one body to contact another. Touch at a distance.