Photo by Renee Rosensteel
Audio-visual artist and performer Ricardo Iamuuri will perform A BRAND NEW WORLD: kill the artist
Thu., Feb. 11 as part of the New Hazlett Theater's Community Supported Art series
. Iamuuri, who began his arts career as a folk musician, uses field recordings, Foley art (creating sounds live in a studio) and music to recreate historical spaces as well as score his silent films. Last year, he produced a sound installation at the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark site, in Rankin, as part of the Alloy Pittsburgh Biennial. You can see our interview with Iamuuri below and hear him on our upcoming City Paper podcast episode
You consider yourself an audio-visual artist, and you are also a musician. How do you intertwine them?
To me they all have their own language, their own communication. With sound and music, it has its own jargon, it has its own sort of rules, just like filmmaking does. I'm really interested in communication and creating art that creates a communal space for people to speak about social-justice issues, be it reconsidering history and stories, be if it’s to raise questions about mass media or just things that are going on in the community. [I] definitely started off as a folk musician, that’s how I hit the arts and music scene. And ever since then I’ve just been using art to cope with a lot of things that are going on in our current culture.
Can you talk about your incorporation of field recordings?
I love to go on road trips to very sonic spaces and just do some, what I call, sound fishing. I’m at a point in my life where the lyrics have become, how can I put it? I’m exhausted. I’m lyrically exhausted. And I think I’m exhausted because how many times can you sing an anti-war song? To think about Pete Seeger or Bob Dylan or Richie Havens or people who were on the front line of folk music and really sharing their sensitivities about decisions that our government was making, there’s just a catch-22 when your protest song becomes a hit. You’re bound to it at every one of your concerts. I want to use a different form of communication.
What is your show on Thursday night about?
A BRAND NEW WORLD: kill the artist
is that sort of resignation letter of the lyrics and moving more into the sound art and noise art and more into the listening. It’s a listening piece. I think listening is very important, allowing that space to hear another point of view, another perspective. It doesn't have to be mine, it's just the method of engaging the people we call our neighbors, engaging those who we share resources with to sustain our families.
The title, kill the artist, what does that mean?
The piece is challenging the commercialization and the commodification of art and all things in life. There’s just something about how far we’ve gone with business and the branding of ourselves to the point where people are speaking in pitches and slogans, and we’re constantly getting into exchanges that are more transactions instead of genuine connections. We’re creating our own ad agencies. We’re posting our thoughts and our dreams. [On social networks], you’re experiencing something and you just feel the need to capture it and turn it into this thing, this brand, the brand of your life. I just want to create a piece that slows us down to thinking about how far do we want to go with the branding. There’s all types of brands. There’s the brand of war, of terror, love, hate. Everything’s for sale, and everything's marketable in this culture. I still have a little fire in me that wants to challenge the way we’re choosing to live.
What are your main projects now?
My company called is SONARCHEOLOGY
; that’s where I’m going with my career. It’s a field-recording and sound-design service. It’s also the way that I look at my art now. What I like to do is like to go to a space that has historical relevance, and I like to imagine what that place sounded like through research. That’s the archaeology aspect of it. Then I basically recreate what it once sounded like. I record what it does presently sound like and imagine what it will someday sound like. I love to go to certain locations throughout our city and study the sonic evolution of a space and create audio tours
for people to experience in that space. I have two pieces being funded by [the] Pittsburgh Foundation; one is [focused on] walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. That’s called "Second Sister." You’ll wear headphones and use a mobile device to tap into the sound piece and narrative specifically for that location.
A BRAND NEW WORLD: kill the artist. 8 p.m. Thu., Feb. 11. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20. www.newhazletttheater.org