Virtual Residency Chronicles: Tyler Lewis
Virtual Residency Chronicles: Tyler Lewis
The beginning of March has marked the start of wendy.network’s first online residency. The virtual residency will culminate in the presentation of six creative projects, each different and exciting in their own way!
In this installment of the Virtual Residency Chronicles we take a moment to appreciate our six resident artists. We discuss their inspirations, their life, their practice and of course their project idea for the wendy.network residency.
Tyler Lewis hails from Glasgow Scotland as a musician, composer, and sound artist. His work is influenced by the phonetics of life; geophony, biophony, and anthrophony, effectively using his surrounding landscapes as a soundboard for his creative practice.
His project for the Virtual Residency proposes the creation of a daily audio diary. Grounded in the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler suggests the recording of the acoustics that constitute his daily life as a way to reassess his relationship with his local environment. The recording of those personal soundbites will then be placed in a dialogue musical improvisation to complete a series of short works.
In your project proposal you mention that because you are forced to stay indoors due to the current state of the world, the wend.network residency would be a great opportunity to break-free from the routine of daily life. Yet your project is deeply rooted in the mundane details of your daily life you seek to break free of. Do you think then that this project is only possible because of the pandemic; because it forced you perhaps to slow down, or register more carefully the sounds and details of your life?
I don’t know if I’m trying to break free from the details of my daily life. My project is more about using the mundane things, the daily habits or new practices; using them as materials to work with and making use of this situation in a way. In the project specifically I’m planning to use piano improvisation as a way to respond to the outside soundscape. But I’m not breaking free, I’m trying to relish in that daily routine or find something new in it. My goal is to use the outside world to experience my daily life differently
Has anything else changed in your creative practise due to the pandemic?
Yes, and it’s related directly to the travel restrictions. A large part of my work is field recording and that involves gathering sound from all types of different landscapes and different locations. Many of them are rural or really remote; my favourite locations to work in are very far away from the city that I live and so that has definitely changed the things I am able to do. But I guess that goes back to why I proposed something that explores my local area, because it is the only thing that is allowed at the moment.
The lack of interaction with people has also been an important change. Before the lockdown and the restrictions I had a regular calendar of events that motivated me. Since none of those are happening I’ve had to look for motivation somewhere else. So in general I would say my work has slowed down, because I don’t have those regular interactions.
Does the necessity to create a virtual project inhibit your artistic expression?
I think because I work with sound, the project works very well in an online residency or in a digital format. Sound is easily transferable, you can share it with anyone (because of the internet). The only thing is you don’t always have quality control. That’s one issue I have been concerned with when it comes to the virtual residency. I record my materials in a certain way, I have a certain standard and I have an idea about what kind of environment they should be listened to within, so now, when its on the other side of the ‘wire’, I have no idea how it ends up and how people actually experience it and that can really change how my material is perceived. But that doesn’t necessarily worry me, it’s actually kind of interesting for me to let it go that way. The more varied, the better.
Your project requires you to scout for sounds outdoors. How do you differentiate between a sound that has potential for your project versus one that does not? What exactly are you looking for?
I’m not really looking for something, but I am also not just heading outside, recording for two minutes and then telling myself ‘okay let’s go back inside!’. I think the act of recording for me is mostly listening. The main objective when I go outside to collect sounds is to listen to my environment and follow my ears with my recorder. So I’m not looking for anything specifically but I am listening for interesting things; things I might have not picked up before, or don’t typically notice, because when you actively listen everything becomes a different story.
With this project what I’m really intending is that it becomes about experimentation in the creative process, meaning that when I am collecting these sounds I’m not deciding with which one I am going to work with, but rather I am just going to bring it back to the studio and play with all them and see what works the best.
As a sound artist and musician what drives you to the exploration of sound and music as a mode of artistic expression?
Well music is where everything started for me creatively. I was brought up in a musical family, I studied music, learned instruments and sang from a very young age so I never questioned my connection to music because it’s been such a big part of who I am. Music has been a completely inherent thing in my life in a way, I never had to seek it out.
Sound became an area I felt I had to explore because I was becoming increasingly interested in “non-traditional” types of music, like experimental electronic music and within those categories I would hear a lot of artists using sound and field recordings in their work and I thought to myself ‘of course, that makes so much sense!’. But I think also sound is a way to really understand something with an incredible amount of detail, because I think sometimes as humans we really don’t appreciate how much our experiences depend on our acoustic environments. For example we understand what a space is partly from what we see but also through the reflections of our voices bouncing off of the walls. It’s almost like a secret sound world and it’s extremely fascinating to me to explore all the details of that world.
Do you believe then, that understanding the sonic environments around us, helps us understand the world we live in more fundamentally? If yes, do think that connects back to some kind of primal relationship with our environment?
Understanding our sonic environments definitely helps us understand the world in its very basic level because it’s just raw information. I always think of this ‘analogy’ where in the visual world you can always close your eyes, but there is really no way to close your ears to our acoustic environments. Sound is a continuous flow of information so as far as perception goes, it’s the most reliable and constant source of information about what exists around us.
It does connect to a type of primal existence I think. That’s one of the things I really enjoy about being in these really remote, wild areas; you start to understand or remember that we are creatures, we are on earth and it’s strange, but it’s actually not so strange because we are part of this world. Especially within natural context, like a nature reserve or a national park, the sounds you hear in those spaces don’t come from machines or man-made objects. Those are the sounds that inspire me the most because that’s really where you feel that connection to what is around you.
You have mentioned that your desire with this project is to ‘link my inside life with my local sonic environment’. Can you elaborate on this feeling of disconnection with your surrounding landscape?
Even though I exist within a community, a city, a region, a country, there is of course a division between your home and the outside world; the inside and the outside. So I thought it would be interesting to try a project where one of the main themes would be to create something in sound where those boundaries would be eliminated, effectively merging the public and the private in one work.
What drew you to collaborating with the wendy.network?
I knew about the wendy.network in its beginning stages already because I knew Alexander and I knew he was working with Mastro on an organization that involved cryptocurrency, which is still a very shadowy and mysterious world which I don’t really yet understand if I’m being honest. But I think it’s so interesting that the wendy.network has been growing so quickly and evolving in so many different directions. Also I am very interested to see how the experience of an artist residency can be re-imagined in an online format. Collaboration is also a very appealing prospect for me.
What are your expectations from the residency?
As an artist and especially now as an artist in residence I really want to work towards a specific outcome. I want to work towards something so at the end of the residency I have something to show for my time. That could go in a couple of different directions, but mainly my expectation is to create something.
How do you feel about the collaboration with the other 5 artists involved in the wendy.network residency?
I’m interested in potentially expanding my project by involving other people. Maybe by sharing the recordings I made and asking other people to get involved. That would be really interesting because then I would have some unexpected material to work with.
For more details about Tyler’s work, the virtual residency, our guest faculty and the other five artists in residence, stay tuned on the wendy.network!