mutable bodies #1: soft-speaking

mixed media installation, 2020

amplified flute, sine tones, noises, wood, plexiglass, surface transducer, hot plate, gelatin

mutable bodies #1: soft-speaking

In many forms of institutionalized contemporary music, the loudspeaker is understood as ‘invisible’—a transparent source of non-information, both in how sounds pass through and out of it and in its presence on the concert stage.

Meanwhile, though they are created to taste and look as invisible as possible, gelatin, agar-agar and other wiggly bioplastics are often seen as unavoidably physical. The cheap byproducts of our industry-driven present (and stand-ins for the household feminine), they exhibit a kind of soft plasticity: a modernized, flattened, domesticized flesh.

In this installation, a 15-minute audio loop of sine tones, noises, amplified flute and flute-generated feedback from solo improvisations during spring and summer 2020 is played through a soft bioplastic loudspeaker.

The loudspeaker replaces the performer as the embodiment of musical gesture and as the object of the gaze. At the same time, its physical body acts in ways that, through an institutionalized electroacoustic lens, might be seen as ‘ruining’ the music it produces: contributing physical malfunctions that distort the audio, and messily dissolving itself over time.

Is there a possibility for a soft aesthetic for this music—one that allows humans and objects to intrude with, or disappear into, their bodies? That allows room for variance, for physicality, for cheapness, and for failure?

like ghosts

Sara Constant

Kosugi Takehisa - Micro 1 (1964), for paper and microphone

Lise Morrison - Five Times Recycled (2019), for bass flute and 2 cassette recorders

Remmy Canedo - Aural degradation (2013), for flutes and live electronics

Chiyoko Szlavnics - Für Eva Hesse (2006), for C flute and sine waves. Video by Els van Riel

like ghosts

For each of these works for flute and/or electronics, sound is something that endures. In Kosugi Takehisa’s Micro 1, a single microphone becomes the starting point for a gradually unfolding sound world. In Lise Morrison’s Five Times Recycled and Remmy Canedo’s Aural degradation, feedback loops in various forms weave themselves into the music. And in Chiyoko Szlavnics’ For Eva Hesse, sine tones resonate with the flute in the space, creating a delicate, slowly-shifting ecosystem.

Together, these compositions serve as a kind of love letter to objects, and the resonances they produce: both the sounds that disappear, and the ones that stay with us over time.

BIO

Sara Constant is a musician and artist working in various forms of contemporary/experimental music and sound.

Sara’s practice is grounded in music and listening as forms of research, embodiment, and place/space-making. Trained as a flute player and active as a soloist, improviser, and ensemble musician, Sara has performed at festivals/series in Canada (Music Gallery, Innovations en concert, CMC Presents, Women From Space), Europe (Fylkingen, Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, Fondation Royaumont, Klangspuren Schwaz), and the United States (Oh My Ears, SPLICE, Cornell University).

Among others, Sara has played with Paris-based contemporary music septet Semblance, graphic score project re:frame, medieval/improvised band Jelly Ear, FAWN chamber creative, the Canadian Composers Orchestra, and alokori, an experimental music and performance art project with Montreal-based guitarist An Laurence. As an artist, Sara’s current projects include collaborations with composers on new works, improvisations with instruments and electronics, installation work with loudspeakers, and curation work aimed at building community spaces for interdisciplinary music-making.

Sara holds degrees from the University of Toronto (flute), University of Amsterdam (musicology), and Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg (contemporary performance). From 2018-2020, Sara participated in CoPeCo, a program in experimental music co-hosted in Tallinn, Stockholm, Lyon, and Hamburg, where their projects included the development of new music for amplified flute/electronics and tours to Finland and Italy playing improvised music. From 2016-2019, Sara co-organized the Toronto Creative Music Lab (TCML)—a community-oriented summer workshop for early-career composers, performers, and ensembles working in contemporary music.

Sara is currently based in Tkaronto/Toronto, where they work as a flutist, writer (Musicworks), and curator (Music Gallery).

www.saraconstant.ca