Olivia Block is a media artist and composer. Her body of work includes live performance, recorded releases, audio-visual installations, sound design for cinema, and scores for orchestra and chamber music concerts.
Her critically acclaimed recordings, including Pure Gaze, Mobius Fuse, Heave To, Karren, and Dissolution combine field recordings, chamber instruments and electronic textures. Her recordings are published on Room 40, Another Timbre, NNA Tapes, Glistening Examples and Sedimental, among other labels.
Block creates research driven, site-specific installations and performances utilizing field recordings and found recordings, among other sounds. She also includes images from video, and curated 35mm slides.
Her work has been profiled in The New York Times, NPR's Morning Edition, and The Wire, among many other publications.
Block's current work reflects her interests in site specificity, ethnographic sound, architecture, found/archival materials from the 1950's-1990's. Block investigates themes related to memory, wind, recorded human voice, non-human animals, and time. She is currently working on installations which combine animal architecture, sound installation and landscape architecture.
For twenty years, Block has performed, premiered and exhibited her work throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours in festivals and performance series including Incubate (Tilburg), MoogFest, Festival del Bosque Germinal (Mexico City), Sonic Light (Amsterdam), Redbull Academy, Kontraste (Krems), Dissonanze (Rome), Archipel (Geneva) Angelica (Bologna), Sunoni per il Popolo (Montreal), and many others. Additionally, she has presented work at the ICA (London), MCA (Chicago), La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kitchen (NYC), ISSUE Project Room, Experimental Intermedia (Brooklyn), and TIFF (Toronto).
Block has developed a body of scored and improvised performances for amplified breath, inside-piano, electronics and various materials, including metal pieces and shards of broken glass. She has also developed site specific works for pipe organ, most recently at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago.
In addition to her artistic work, Block is committed to her pedagogical practice. She is a faculty member in the sound department of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Sound Arts and Industries department of Northwestern University.
She has completed visiting teaching residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music, RISD, University of Michigan,The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Thacher School, Flagler College, DePauw, and The Berklee College of Music, among others. Block has presented talks and workshops at additional universities in film, music, media arts, and anthropology departments, including Yale University, University of Chicago, Harvard University, Concordia and Indiana University.
Block also volunteers her time for community based art projects. She recently completed a collaborative, partially improvised orchestral composition and performance with the Chicago Metamorphosis Project (chiMOP)
Block has created site specific sound installations for public spaces and exhibition spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Manhattan Museum of Arts and Design, Sokolowsko Sanitorium (Poland), CONTEXT (Miami and NY), The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (Chicago), the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room (Chicago), and at the “Echoes Through the Mountains” exhibit at the 2006 Winter Olympics (Turin, Italy).
Block resides in Chicago, and travels widely for her work.