The Audio-Visual Collective on Building Immersive Cymatic Landscapes
VALENCIA / ESPOO | WORDS BY MILES FORRESTER | MUSIC - Issue 9
Joining smART Magazine from Espoo, Finland, and Valencia, Spain, Monika Hauck and Alex Ricci are the two halves of the performing duo Static Channel. I first experienced them playing shows in makeshift venues across Toronto. Using cymatics (visual representations of sound waves) induced by Alex’s groove-heavy bass, Monika would manipulate and project a swirling vat of pigments, immersing the room in rumbling colour. They are an act a fan can follow, adding new sounds and visual implements to each performance and installation. Over the pandemic, they’ve taken time to develop their upcoming multimedia project Levadas, a meditation over distance, memory, and place.
sM | What new forms of expression do
Static Channel by Talia Ricci
you find interesting in this trend towards combining visual art and music in performance?
AR ─ I mean, some people even talk about what venues should smell like. The stuff that I’m into is exploring the convergence of these two fields in such a way that it doesn’t even necessarily seem like music anymore; it seems like something that you can’t quite define.
One thing that’s really inspired me here [in Valencia] is this festival called Volumens, which a few of my professors are involved in. In particular, Professor Marta Verde had a really cool collaboration with another artist, José Venditti, called Omen. He was playing saxophone over his modular synth music and she was doing modular visuals—affecting it with gestures and video feedback. That element of the human — making little mistakes, little variations, little choices in the moment — I think that’s what other humans want to see in a performance.
MH ─ Since we started our project in 2015, there’s been increasing demand for musical artists to have visual components. During the pandemic, seeing how artists and promoters are adapting performances has been really inspiring. Particularly in Toronto, Wavelength Music has been doing variety shows, increasing the potential for audience interaction.
Right now, there are so many tools available for artists. It’s also a supersaturated time for people’s attention. There’s higher tolerance for watching performances in alternative formats. By the same token, not every performer can conform to a virtual format. We took our time during the pandemic to focus on other things, thinking about what it means to be in a room with people performing. I’ve always been interested in bringing forward installation elements and thinking about shows more as sharing space and creating an atmosphere, as opposed to a performer-and-audience dynamic.
Static Channel by Talia Ricci
sM | As the digital is becoming more dominant in our lives and artmaking, what kinds of effect are you exploring with Levadas?
MH ─ We developed a really good thrice-weekly ritual of going into our studio—we had it all set up to multitrack-record whatever we would come up with on the spot and really open the floodgates. A lot of these compositions are more extended, cinematic pieces—often spanning or going over 10 minutes, kind of more like journeys that we’re really excited to share with everyone.
AR ─ We've been really focusing on building this surreal digital world that Levadas is based on—somewhere between a real place that we visited and a daydream of that place. We went travelling to some Portuguese islands in 2017. Not knowing that we were starting a project, we documented and captured a lot of images, footage, and sounds that became the inspiration for this album. Monika’s been cutting up and reconstructing the material into these impossible structures and landscapes—these images that seem almost like they could be real, but there’s something uncanny. The visuals all sort of explore this narrative of us returning to this place through a digital reconstruction or distorted memory of it.
MH ─ I’m trying to remember the initial sparks … Madeira and the Azores are right in the middle of the ocean, far from the Portuguese coast. But it’s a mountainous area, and the levadas are these really ancient stone aqueducts we were hiking along. From the top of a mountain, the entire way to the bottom, there would be this stone shaft carrying water and you’d see fish in them. Over the course of the development of our album, we related to this idea of water-transfer over landscapes.
It’s been a very healthy escape from reality, making this world (Laughs) and definitely a little bit of a coping mechanism. At least it has been for me.
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