Composer-in-Residence program at the Harn Museum of Art debuts art-inspired sound installation

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Composer-in-Residence program at the Harn Museum of Art debuts art-inspired sound installation
Composer-in-Residence Rob Seaback with Pli Selon Pli by Akiyama Yō.

GAINESVILLE, FLA.- The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida recently launched a Composer-in-Residence program with the goal of offering university students in the School of Music the opportunity to develop original compositions inspired by the Harn’s collection. Through the study of specific art objects and independent research, the Composer-in-Residence not only creates an original composition but performs his or her work in the gallery providing new ways for Harn visitors to connect with the art on view. The first composition titled plis de temps by Robert Seaback recently debuted on March 8.

Robert Seaback, a PhD candidate in music composition and technology at the University of Florida and electroacoustic composer spent six months creating a four channel audio sound installation, plis de temps, as a departure from the ceramic sculpture Pli Selon Pli by Akiyama Yō.

Akiyama Yō, one of Japan’s most important contemporary ceramic sculptors, explores texture and form through the manipulation of clay with a commitment to experimentation and reinvention. His process, used in Pli Selon Pli, involves applying a blowtorch and then cutting and altering the forms, twisting and turning them inside out to create cracks and fissures.

In Robert Seaback’s musical composition plis de temps, sound is conceptualized as a physical material that is susceptible to physical ruptures akin to those found in Akiyama’s sculptures. Through various digital processes, sound sources recorded by the composer are deconstructed and reassembled. Sources include ocean waves, thunderstorms and various instruments. In this composition, sound becomes a malleable material substance which carries links to its own material origins despite various distortions and mutations. Plis de temps is a continuous succession of sonic textures that evoke the sounds of materials and the materiality of sound.

“We hope to provide learning opportunities and inspire our audiences to delve deeper into the meanings behind and techniques used to create the art on view,” said Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Jason Steuber. “What better way to do that than to provide first-hand experiences that transcend the visual to the musical/auditory.”

The Composer-in-Residence program, headed by Ivy Chen, Curatorial Assistant of Asian Art, will continue to foster collaboration among the museum and university faculty and students in the School of Music by selecting a new Composer-in-Residence each academic year. The Composer-in-Residence program is an extension of several cross-boundary programs at the Harn, which include Poet-in-Residence and Choreographer-in-Residence.

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