Olivia Block

Olivia Block

Olivia Block website

In Progress: dual installation project at C.E.A.M.& GTM Research Reserve

I am wrapping up a week long research residency curated by Julie Dickover at The Crisp Ellert Art Museum at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FLA. The culmination will be a sound and visual installation project opening at two separate sites in early spring.

The project is a partnership between C.E.A.M. and Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve  scientists and staff. I have been overwhelmed and grateful for the support of folks at GTM, including Research Director and marine biologist Nicole Dix, Administrator and biologist Michael Shirley, Ph.D., Education Director Kenneth Rainer, Park Ranger Gina Spear, and Coastal Training Specialist Kaitlyn Dietz.

The final installation will be presented in two different forms:

One part of the installation, including a multi-speaker sound piece, will open at the newly renovated/updated GTM Environmental Education Center in late February, 2018 (date TBA).

The second part, including sound and objects, will open at C.E.A.M.on March 2nd, 2018.

The installation will include recorded materials from the oyster reef and marshes at GTM Research Reserve and related visual materials. I am interested in the conservation research work by GTM. Additionally I am interested in the presentation of science education to the public--dioramas, interactive features, living specimen presentation, narrative, and artistic design. This piece will present raw materials-field recordings, scientific data, photos from on site, in two different contexts-museum space and science pedagogy space.

Here are some photos of an October 25, 2017 recording session at the oyster reef outside the education center, led by Nicole Dix and assisted and photographed by Amelia Weber.

Recording with marine biologist/Director of Research, Nicole Dix, at the oyster reef at low tide. October 25, 2017. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

Recording with marine biologist/Director of Research, Nicole Dix, at the oyster reef at low tide. October 25, 2017. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

Recording the oysters at the reef. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

Recording the oysters at the reef. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

The oyster reef. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

The oyster reef. Photographed by Amelia Weber.

 

Special thanks to my research assistant-students at Flagler: Alexis, Amelia, Cate, Emily, and Mason. 

Another Timbre release preview

 Preview sounds are here.

I am pleased to announce my upcoming release of piano and organ music, simply titled "Olivia Block," on Another Timbre. The release will come out this fall, in addition to releases by Jürg Frey,  the Insub Meta Orchestra (playing pieces by Cyril Bondi and Laurent D'incise Peter) + John Cage's 'Winter Music' played by John Tilbury, Philip Thomas, Mark Knoop and Catherine Laws.

This is the first recording in an ongoing investigation into piano and organ. I developed inside piano techniques during my time in rehearsal studios at Roosevelt Music Conservatory starting in 2005. A distillation of subsequent improvisation, sketches, performances and rehearsals resulted in this suite.

 The first piece features a performance in which I accompany a recording of myself, played at 1/2 speed inside the piano on a tape. I also prolong decays of notes using internal feedback tones, contact mics and walkie-talkies. I play most of this piece on the keys, emphasizing the range of the instrument, clustered chords and generative repetitive figures.  The score contains loose and open elements for improvisation.

The second piece utilizes materials like broken glass and metal, placed inside the grand piano.

The final piece includes long segments played on the lowest strings of the piano. 

I included the sounds of my most cherished vintage organ in the compositions as well. 

This suite represent a change in my usual studio-based approach. The pieces are almost entirely performed live by myself, with some minor post production studio interventions.

The recording was co-produced with Adam Sonderberg of Haptic.

The pieces were recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago, with Greg Norman.

 

 

 

 

Bertoia documentary interview

I met with directors Harlow Figa and Sarah Moses at Experimental Sound Studio recently to discuss Sonambient Pavilion, my multi channel installation. I played an excerpt in 5.1 surround sound, and explained the speaker layout at The Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The meeting was filmed for their upcoming documentary on Harry Bertoia.

I am looking forward to seeing the final version and I am happy that these young directors are taking an interest in Bertoia's work.

During my recent interview with Harlow Figa and Sarah Moses at ESS.

During my recent interview with Harlow Figa and Sarah Moses at ESS.

 

 

 

DISSOLUTION is here!

Dissolution, my latest LP is now out on Glistening Examples. Each limited special edition version (sold out) is a clear vinyl LP with 35mm slides embedded in the record (thank you Jason L. and Heather for this amazing invention) and a layered 35mm slide assembled by myself.

To purchase info: There are many regular edition LPs still available at distributors like Forced Exposure, Experimedia, and Erstwhile, among others. Hope you can grab a copy before they are all gone.

Text about the LP: 

Dissolution is a reflection upon human “webs of significance,” and an investigation into the ways that electronic communications and recording technologies, both past and present, facilitate, complicate and transmute the formation of these webs. Sounds of shortwave radio, municipal broadcast recordings, fragments of found microcassette tapes, tones and instruments dramatize the fragility and failures of communication and language in shaping memory and experience. 

This album is dedicated to Adam Sonderberg, without whom I could not have completed this project.

credits

released November 11, 2016

Credits: 

Lesley Swanson - flute

Shaun Flynn - clarinet

Musicians were recorded at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago IL
in January 2015. The session was engineered by Alex Inglesian. 

Special thanks to Seth Nehil

Mastered by Jason Lescalleet at Glistening Labs USA

Yarn|Wire Premieres Calibration Circle

I am pleased to announce the premiere of Calibration Circle by the wonderful NY based ensemble, Yarn|Wire.

This event will be presented for members of The Arts Club of Chicago. The performance is on the evening of November 10th.

Here is a description of the piece:

Calibration Circle, by Olivia Block, composed for Yarn/Wire, utilizes techniques and “found” or archival documents from 20th Century cinema. Calibration Circle is, in a sense, a Foley score for an imageless film.

Percussionists will perform Foley sound to a video of a house demolition. Pianists will be reading vintage 35mm film leaders as scores, playing both the keys and the inside of the piano.

 Calibration Circle draws attention to the dominant nature of seeing in the world of the arts and cinema. Further, Calibration Circle offers the possibility for immersive sound worlds to eclipse those dominant visual aspects of art. 

Coming soon: Dissolution on Glistening Examples

My solo LP (and download), Dissolution, is scheduled to be released on Jason Lescalleet's Glistening Examples label in the late fall 2016. Limited special artist edition LPs will include layered 35mm slides from my collection, individually signed and packaged.

Text:

Dissolution is a reflection upon human “webs of significance,” and an investigation into the ways that electronic communications technologies, both past and present, facilitate, complicate and transmute the formation of these webs. Sounds of shortwave radio, municipal broadcast recordings, fragments of found microcassette tapes, field recordings and instruments dramatize the fragility and failures of communication and language in our everyday world.  Dissolution will be released on Glistening Examples in November, 2016.

 

Credits:

 

Musicians:

 

Lesley Swanson-flute

 

Shaun Flynn -clarinet

 

Musicians were recorded at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, in January 2015. The session was engineered by Alex Inglesian.

 

NIST WWV recordings from http://swling.com

 

Thank you:

 

Jason Lescalleet, Seth Nehil

 

Dedication:

 

To Adam Sonderberg, without whom I could not have completed this project.

Summer residencies: Notam in Oslo and Sanatorium of Sound, Sokolowsko, Poland

June 13-28 Oslo:

I am looking forward to working in the surround sound studio at Notam in Oslo, where I will create a 16-channel version of my recently completed piece, Dissolution (forthcoming on Glistening Examples, fall 2016).  The 16-channel version will premiere in the US in late 2016 or early 2017 (more info tba)

August 1-14 Sokolowsko, Poland:

Sanatorium of Sound commission:  I will complete a two-week residency at Sokolowsko, Poland, working on a site specific installation in a dilapidated sanatorium previously used for treating TB patients. Additionally, I will perform on August 13th at the festival.

Installation description: 

Open Air: sound and visual installation

by Olivia Block

August  2016

Sanitorium of Sound Festival, Sokolowsko sanatorium, Poland.

 Olivia Block will complete a two-week residency at Sokolowsko, creating a sound and visual piece for various rooms in the beautiful, dilapidated Sokolowsko sanatorium.

 Layered breath sounds will quietly emanate from multiple speakers, coalescing with the atmospheric sounds of the space like ghosts. Large curtains made from loosely woven cotton surgical gauze, will be suspended from the ceiling and over the windows inside the sanatorium. The curtains will catch the circulating air, billowing and floating—animating a flow of energy.

Open Air draws attention to the movement of air in various forms-- literally and metaphorically. The piece is inspired by the history of sanatoria, including related historical concepts of illness and transmission mechanisms and treatments of Tuberculosis. 

 

 

 

Two NYC openings May 3rd, 2016: CONTEXT NY and Museum of Arts and Design

If you are in NYC this weekend, there are two exhibitions opening which include works by myself, plus interesting pieces by additional artists. 

Sound Positions, curated by Christoph Cox, is a sound exhibition in CONTEXT NY, featuring a wonderful group of artists. The exhibition includes my piece for layered found recordings, List of Objects and Values

Olivia Block, Lists of Objects and Values (2015), 11:03

Exhibition text: 

This composition is constructed from a collection of 1980s and 90s microcassette recordings bought on ebay. Interested in the way people used microcassette recorders for keeping logs and documenting intimate conversations, Block noticed that many recordings resemble one another in terms of subject matter, style, and rhythm, and began looking for patterns. For this piece, she was drawn to recordings of people listing objects and monetary values. Block conceives these recordings as inadvertent expressions of what anthropologist Igor Kopytoff calls the “methodological fetishism” of things. Lists of objects become catalogs of waste during a decadent period in American history.

 Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia's Environment for Sound curated by Shannon Stratton, is opening at The Museum of Arts and Design (Mad) in NYC.  The exhibition includes an excerpt recording (in stereo) and photos of Sonambient Pavilion, my multi-channel installation in Millennium Park, which premiered in November 2015. The installation was created from the sounds of Harry Bertoia's Sonambient sculptures, located at the Aon Center in Chicago.