Audio visual canvas

Jan 17, 2013, 08:06 IST | Surekha S

Witness a unique performance as San Francisco-based artist Surabhi Saraf accentuates different senses using objects like a mechanical fan in a live-audio visual presentation based on tracks from her debut album Illuminen

Illuminen is your debut album? Can you describe its theme and what prompted you to come out with it?
Illuminen is my attempt at the sonic articulation of my artistic expression: it is the culmination of an idea that I’ve been ruminating on for a few years and a natural progression of my recent projects. I arrived here through various narratives: most tracks on the album were conceived for live performances or installations; they encapsulate my practice from past five years. It features my vocals, and other field and studio recordings I’ve collected over the years. It will be released as limited edition EP accompanied with an LP-sized archival print and I’m thrilled that it will be a part of my solo exhibition in Mumbai.

Spinning Four, 2012, Surabhi Saraf, Live Audio - Visual Performance.

What can we look forward to at the live audio-visual performance?
On Thursday, I’ll be performing two tracks from my debut album Illuminen (EP). Through these performances, my vision is to accentuate each sense – individually, and in concert. The first, Spinning Four, is a visually rich immersive sonic experience: I use my vocals with multiplied sounds of an old mechanical fan. The sound will be accompanied by large projections of the live video-feed of the fan to complement the sound-scape. The second, Illuminen, takes the audience on an inward journey negotiating the ideas of entertainment, experience, sensation and sensationalism.

Peel, 2009, Surabhi Saraf, Single Channel Video Installation with 5.1 Surround Sound.

You are also presenting your first solo exhibition at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke very soon? Tell us about this.
Since this is my first solo show, the exhibition will showcase some of my selected past works, including the two videos from the series video choreographies called Peel and Fold along with a more recent video work titled Spinning Ten. In addition, we’ll have the album Illuminen as well as prints from some of my live performances. Finally, I'm creating a brand new installation for the exhibition. It is a sequel to the collaborative work Oscillations, which was shown very recently at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

How long has it been since you have been living in San Francisco and how long are you going to be in Mumbai now?
I’ve been based in San Francisco since 2009, having moved there right after my post-graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ll be in Mumbai until January 25 at which point I leave for Delhi where I’ll do another live performance at the Max Mueller Bhavan and then setup a video installation for the India Art Fair where Galerie Mirchandani & Steinrucke is presenting my work.

You are a new media artist, composer and performer who has also trained in classical music. What does your interest mainly lie in? What are the kind of works you would like to create using your experiences?
I primarily work in video, sound installations and live performances. I grew up in a very musically-inclined family and took lessons in both music and dance as a kid growing up in Indore. That upbringing, along with my formal background in Painting (MSU, Baroda) and Art and Technology (SAIC, Chicago) has shaped my practice. I’m a choreographer at heart: concepts of movement and composition are central to my process. I’m fascinated by the idea of transformation; it is this moment when art happens for me. I consider the idea of a fan (or any other manmade objects for that matter) as a creative act; its takes in still air and transforms it to create wind, my job as an artist is to take that initial creative act forward. I do that with a diverse array of techniques, such as repetition, fragmentation, and multiplication, designing sequences of rhythmic movements, creating multilayered structures of evolving patterns. These ideas manifest themselves in my works whether it is video, sound or performance, all these forms and mediums inform one another to create a multisensory immersive experience.

Can you give us a background of some of the work you have done before?
At the Faculty of Fine Arts in MSU Baroda, I tried to communicate music through my paintings (Streaks in E-minor). After college I experimented a bit with live performances, audio installations (NOMONOSOUND) and videos and got interested enough in the medium to apply for an MFA Program. The Art & Technology program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) gave me the exposure and resources to takes my experiments further with videos and add a more immersive layer of surround sound to the videos (Peel, Spinning Ten). And sometime after graduation, my videos led me back to live performances (FOLD {Live}), experimental sound and installations (Oscillations). Along the way there have been many rewarding collaborations. I encourage your readers to check out my website for more details.

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