After a successful exhibition at The Bluecoat in Liverpool last year, artist Emma Smith returned to the North West of England for a repeated presentation of her work Euphonia, together with a new piece, 5Hz at HOME, Manchester.
Smith’s practice centres around human connectivity. She creates site-specific works, a subject of interest for me in BoW based on a period of research and production with a diverse group of “…academics, professionals and hobbyists and drawing on the fields of anthropology, history, psychology, neurology, physics and biology.” (Smith, no date).
The work presented in HOME is about participation, which as a broad subject that I have recently reflected on, has its controversies. Smith is ambitious too, for instance 5Hz is a sound installation that aims to develop social bonds though a newly developed singing language. This is facilitated by event sessions which she herself participates. And this is what I find most interesting about her work as I have been considering in my own BoW, what levels of participation I would want viewers to engage with.
The tonal harmonies of Euphonia that echo around the exhibition space appear in one way to be like a warm up for a choir, but also something more primitive, amplifying “…the musicality of social interactions.” (O’Callaghan, 2019). I find it an auditory equivalent to how I enjoy experiencing space and light through work by artists such as Richard Serra and James Turrell. The piece acting as a facilitator for which the viewer needs to take the time to invest in order to create a personal experience.
The purpose I found in the exhibition space for 5Hz is to reflect on the emotions various sounds may evoke, feeling the music rather than how we typically interpret words and meanings within lyrics. It has a minimalist quality of doing more with less, creating “…sounds that transcend language barriers.” (O’Callaghan, 2019). Though that could be regarded an oversimplification and do Smith a disservice, as she says in an interview with Art in Liverpool, the collective research and input from Professors Ian Cross, Robin Dunbar and Lauren Stuart, together with Dr Victoria Williamson is extensive (Kirk-Smith, 2018). What she has done though, is take the research and create something accessible for the general public to work with.
The inspiration I take from Emma Smith is that an exhibition is a platform to reflect on the knowledge in sound art she has acquired to date, this facilitates feedback with the participants to continue to develop further collaborations and areas of research, making it an ever-evolving practice. My own developing ideas in BoW are also what I would like to see applied to various situations and scales. Creating less of a end product, but more a ‘way of seeing’ that I can continue to explore through interventions, formations and notations.
Home (no date) Available at: https://homemcr.org (Accessed on 24.04.19)
Kirk-Smith, P (2018) ‘Featured Artist: Emma Smith, Euphonia’ In: Art in Liverpool [online] At: https://www.artinliverpool.com/featured-artist-emma-smith-euphonia/ (Accessed on 25.04.19)
O’Callaghan, B (2019) 5Hz & Euphonia Manchester: HOME
Smith, E (no date) Available at: http://www.emma-smith.com (Accessed on 24.04.19)