Artist: Olivia Block
Title: Cattleguards | ©
photo by: Olivia Block
I made these field recordings by threading small microphones into the rusted pipes of an old cattleguard in the Texas hill country. The pipes were different lengths, filtering the sound into different frequencies. I like to record situations which draw attention to the way air moves—wind, cars driving by, etc. The pitches created by the pipes create an interesting framing device for the air sounds, making them more “visible” to the ear by “coloring” them with the filter. While I used to try and avoid obvious “human” sounds like cars, I am now attracted to the paradox of car and airplane sounds in seemingly isolated natural settings.
Olivia Block is a contemporary composer and sound artist who combines field recordings, scored segments for acoustic instruments, and electronically generated sound. Block works with recorded media, chamber ensembles, video, and site-specific sound installations.
She has performed throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours and festivals including Sonic Light, Dissonanze, Archipel, Angelica, Sunoni per il Popolo, Outer Ear, and many others. Her works have premiered at La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, and she has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music and The Berklee College of Music. She has taught master classes at several additional universities.
Block has created sound installations for public sites and exhibition spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the library at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room in Chicago, and at the “Echoes Through the Mountains” exhibit at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Her 2008 DVD release with video artists Sandra Leah Gibson and Luis Recoder, Untitled, on SOS editions, has been screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and the Expanded Cinema symposium at the Tate Modern in London. Her release Mobius Fuse was voted one of the best albums of the decade by Pitchfork. Block has published recordings through Sedimental, either/OAR, and Cut, among other labels.
She is currently teaching part-time in the sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.