A sound artist and a clothes-maker collaborate to create a new soundscape in Lal Bagh
Turns out that art goes beyond a five-by-five frame, water colours, and sketches. Artists Cathy Lane, a sound artist, and Tessa Brown, a clothes-maker, use their strengths to do an installation along with the students from Shrishti.
A project that started with the assumption that people use their eyes more than they do their ears, the installation is being set up in the ficus grove in Lal Bagh.
“We are going to record songs from in and around Lal Bagh, which is predominantly Bangalore traffic and horns, but it is interesting. And that's where Tessa steps in — she creates the space, a textile structure that allows the natural sounds to come in, but can also integrate the recorded sounds, which is the sound as it was, as it is, and as it might be,” explains Cathy.
She continues, “It is about framing particular sounds by recording them accompanied by any relevant visuals that might enhance it. It's like watching a movie where all the action is outside the film.”
Tessa studied social anthropology, but is certain she has not done anything useful with it in her career.
She says, “I am essentially a clothes-maker and a lot of my clients happened to be artists and I have spent the past five years helping them realise their projects. I started getting interested in the idea of textile-bound spaces and Cathy wanted to create a space to listen to sounds.”
Their work starts with listening to a space. “The first installation we worked on in a park in London was on the flight path into Heathrow, and it was hard to find three seconds without the sound of aeroplanes. And when you are cut off by the textile structure and rely on hearing, you re-experience the sonic environment, which is heightened by the space. It's a space created to listen to our world,” says Cathy.
Both artists agree that it is a whole ocean of difference when you work with students from India. “The Indian students are very responsive and there is a lot of respect. A lot of Indian art is about a message and a story; in the West the aesthetic is to strip it and get down to essentials. We are trying to do that without taking away their personality. The listening is detailed enough.”
They also agree that it is different to work in another country. “There is a different attitude to doing things on your own over here. In the UK there isn't anybody to ask for help, whereas here there is somebody to weld and cut and sew and source. We only just realised we can have people do things for us.” they say, amazed.
The two women met through mutual friends at a New Years' party. “The next morning we went for a walk to discuss what we would like to do in the coming year, like everyone does in the new year and Tessa was talking about building large textile structures and I thought it would be interesting to have sound in those spaces,” narrates Cathy who always thought of music as art.
Tessa however says, “I never comfortably call myself an artist – I am a clothes maker.”
When it comes to their work, the artists are driven by a completely different sense of aesthetic, which is individual to their interest. “Tess is driven by the visuals, which are more dominant and I am driven by the sonic, it's a really different way of looking at the world. It's the tangible versus the intangible, but both are about the creation of space…sound is one of your main cues for space,” says Cathy.