The following interview excerpt was conducted and transcribed by Zoe Rosenblum for a book forthcoming from Timeless, Infinite LightPress in 2015.
Z: What do you collect?
N: I collect a variety of things. I collect boxes. I collect jars and ink. I collect pressed
flowers. I used to collect playing cards. I had hundreds of them. Wherever I went,
I’d purchase playing cards. My mother is an antique dealer. She was a florist
for a while. A lot of my most unique items come from her or are her findings.
Z: If resources and space were not an issue, how would you display your
N: I would incorporate the flowers and the boxes into a multimedia event with
sonic representations of the flowers themselves. I’d also display the flowers
alongside the visual art that I do. The boxes and jars I’ve used already in
performance, and I think that I will continue to do that—sonic pieces with my
Z: Describe the sonic pieces you’ve done with your jars and boxes.
N: For my master’s thesis in music, I utilized my collection by conducting
instrumentalists with jars and boxes. I created notations that would correspond
to the color of ink that was dripped inside the jars to xylophones and
glockenspiels and other keyboard instruments. The boxes were used to conduct
bass drums. I had two double bass, three cellos, a woodblock and some other
auxiliary percussion. The opening or closing of a particular box would
correspond to a song cue. Some of the boxes corresponded to only certain
instruments, so I would use them for improvisation–to be able to manipulate or
to conduct the ensemble on the spot. How much the boxes opened would
correspond to the dynamic level. I also synched up certain sonic gestures with
actual drawers opening. The second act was sonified flowers. I created a
notation for them, too, so the instrumentalists would be able to present the
sound of their color patterns.
Z: Can you speak about your system of notation?
N: The notation that I’ve been alluding to includes two-dimensional figures of
jars with various shades and hues of color.
That particular mapping that I’ve
grown attached to also seems to be consistent with the looks of what are called
Urine Circles are a predecessor to the color wheel. They were used to diagnose various
medical ailments. They were used by alchemists during the 14th
century. When I discovered them, it seemed both coincidental and very telling.
I’m interested in an aesthetic that has clearly been around for a long time.