Paddy Johnson Discusses Her Sound of Art Project

09/28/2010 1:10 PM |

The Sound of Art

We tend to think of contemporary art in visual terms, but everything from performance and video art to all types of installation and sculpture have often undervalued sonic dimensions—Luke Murphy’s radiation detector, for instance, clicking away ominously during his exhibition at Canada last year, completely transformed the experience of his installation—which are exactly what our own Paddy Johnson, founding editor of Art Fag City wants to preserve, and make available for archiving, remixing, Autotuning and so on, with her Kickstarter project The Sound of Art. She told me all about it

The L: How did you choose works/sounds to include in the project. Did you work with a curator or artist, or is the selection based on works you’ve seen/heard over the last several years?

Paddy Johnson: The selection process was both submission based, and by active solicitation. I’ve heard a lot of sounds over the last five years, so I wanted the album to reflect that, but I also wanted it to include the blog’s readership and community, which offers a much larger and diverse set of art makers than any one critic could experience over the course of five years. As such it’s a natural product of how the blog is run, which includes off line and online components.

I should mention that we had over 100 submissions from the call alone, which was fairly broad in nature—we just asked for “art sounds”. Michelle Halabura, The Sound of Art project manager, collected all of these sounds and made a fair number of calls on her own as to which projects would be included and which wouldn’t. It was from this call that we received the recorded sounds of the late guitar hero John Fahey’s recorded sounds, so it was certainly effective.

The L: Were all the artists, galleries and institutions cooperative?

Paddy: Everyone involved has been exceptionally helpful. I’ve raised a lot of money directly through my own readership, but in the last days we expect to take on more collectors, as the dealers and institutions reach out to their bases. These things take time, and unfortunately we’ve chosen to do this on a very tight schedule. Funds raised from the launch party will help send me to Basel this December, so we needed to make this happen on a very quick time table.

Several artists have donated works to the project which has been and will be very helpful. Marcin Ramocki donated signed posters last Tuesday. We only gave them away one day, and we nearly ran out! Today we introduce a gorgeous painting donated by Aron Namenwirth, which can be had very inexpensively only through this campaign. There will be more of this, and of course we have yet to reveal a new promo video for the project which will include a really hilarious cameo. I’m working with Ben Coonley to put that together and we hope to release it Thursday.

The L: Was there anything you weren’t able to include that you wish you could have? Could this become a recurring recording?

Paddy: There was a lot of work I wanted to include and just couldn’t. Part of it was the tight timelines—we wanted to use the work of Christian Marclay for example, and there just wasn’t enough time to get all the clearances we needed. The truth of the matter is though, there’s only so much time on an LP. In the future we’d likely make a double set. And yes, there are a number of iterations I’d like to see this project take. Since it takes the form of a battle — Brooklyn vs Manhattan — I think it’s only right to extend the battle to the other side of the country: East coast vs West Coast. Ultimately though, I’m gunning for the CANADA vs USA version. The two countries will never be the same.

She’s about halfway to her $10,000 goal on the Kickstarter project to produce the recording, which will include sounds from some 40 exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Hurry, though, because there are only 8 days left to help out. Donors get cool gifts like copies of the compilation, art by Michael Smith and Phillip Niemeyer, and a dinner with Paddy and artist William Powhida for the most generous. Sitting between that opinionated pair you might be too intimidated to make a sound, but trust me, they’re both really very nice.