To Hold a Body

Gray Snyder – Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Collaborators: Samuel Uribe-Botero – School of Music, Theatre & Dance and LSA

To Hold a Body (THB) integrates concepts and methods from the fields of sculpture, performance, audio engineering and psychology, in the project’s preliminary/ongoing research and the installation’s final fabrication. THB investigates the role of material culture and the potential of objects, places and rituals in mediating our relationship with the dead, and material culture’s effects on memory processing and ritual performance during periods of grief and mourning. Through our creation of audio and visual stimulants we will create a landscape of access points to create an environment focused on the conditions of memory recollection and development. Additionally THB explores the semantics of the body, and its role in rituals for closure in the opposing practices of catholicism and buddhism. Through our research, THB positions materials as extensions of the absent and associated body, while attempting to provide different metrics to approximate the incommensurable self when faced with the deceased’s expansive multiplicity during rituals of collective remembering. To Hold a Body is an installation consisting of an entropic sculpture immersed in long form video projection and audio components. Snyder will develop the form of the sculpture and the projected video documentation. The sculpture will assume the form of an altar, created from an assemblage of various wax objects cast from handmade rubber molds. The individual candles will vary in their material as some will be made through rendering tallow (animal fat), while others will be beeswax or soy based. Snyder’s performance of burning the wax sculpture will be recorded and later projected in the exhibition space, over the melted remnants of the altar. The linear progression of the video will be challenged by processing the video through a recurrent feedback patch in the audio/visual program, Touch Designer. The thematic material of Uribe Botero’s accompanying audio will possess a cyclical quality through its blurring of form and variation. The audio will be built from modular and digital sound synthesis techniques involving granular synthesis, live audio manipulation, and various means of audio saturation, culminating into uninterrupted auditive repetition. This recurrence will elicit an experience of semantic satiation for viewers; the phenomena of a word losing its meaning and transforming in sound and texture upon the oversaturated repetition of the word. The rhythmic cycles coupled with the feedback loops of the projected performance act will induce a sensory experience of disorientation, repetition, and an overlapping of time. To Hold a Body aims to question the assumption that the self only extends as far as the body through asking viewers to consider and reflect on their experiences of reencountering or reconsidering a relationship after a loved one’s death. Through the acts of sharing memories, listening to specific songs, or revisiting significant places, we can witness the expansive facets of the self in the absence of the body. THB will be publicly accessible and viewable for members inside and outside of the student body for approximately two weeks in the Stamps School of Art & Design.