Noise (verb)

Em Spencer, Stamps School of Art & Design & School of Music, Theatre & Dance

With the funding for this grant I will create an installation that provides an opportunity for audience members to expand their definition of what noise is. There will be an audio and video aspect, the video will show a dancer moving rhythmically spreading paint over themselves, while the audio will be telling a story. The project will take about a month to complete, including working with and recording the dancer, as well as creating, recording and editing the audio element.

As our definition of art and music expands, and the world casts down more judgment on what we ignore and what we praise, our personal interpretation of what is ‘noise’ becomes skewed. We filter out work just because our peers tell us to, and artwork falls to the background because it’s not understood, people don’t connect to it. If we as makers are able to decipher what is perceived as ‘noise’ it can be used to our advantage, by becoming aware of it, it becomes a tool to bring the message of artwork to the foreground.

The installation will be a projector with a speaker that plays the same video and story on a loop. Both will begin with the visuals and audio in tandem, eventually the audio and video will begin to skip, move backwards in time and bend in pitch, and bridge away from one another creating the illusion of chaos or ‘noise’. Utilizing the concept of Neural entrainment, which states that people are more likely to understand a piece if there is an inherent idea of where it’s going, both will continue at the same tempos, allowing the viewer a subconscious latch onto the piece.

This work will function with the psychology of sound and art to showcase that ‘noise’ is perceptible on the subconscious level. The decision to incorporate both sound and music stems from the immediate reaction to Art/Music we don’t understand as ‘noise’. Creating an exhibition that directly interacts with this gut reaction, having it be a funded and University sanctioned event, creates context that clues the viewer there is inherent value, and therefore might be deeper intent beyond creating ‘noise’.

The expected impact is that viewers will reflect on their day to day listening, that in viewing this piece they begin to wonder about the differences in definition between ‘sounds’ and ‘noise’. The more people who reflect on and begin to understand this difference, the more skilled and open minded listeners become a part of our community.

Pursuing dual degrees both in the School of Music, and Art and Design, my education overlaps in the world of creativity. My work explores the between, and is often misinterpreted by peers as ‘meaningless’ or ‘noise’. As someone who is currently pushing for the boundaries of socially accepted art and music, the success of my work depends on others allowing themselves to expand the definition of noise. I am a performance and an Art major, I have extensive collaboration experience, as well as a unique understanding of the intersection between aural and visual fields. I have done extensive research in the Psychology behind our listening and am currently taking a musicology class on sound.