As part of the PhD research titled 'Poetics of vibration: deployments of technology in contact with the body as affective memory,' interviews were conducted with four artists to delve into their methodology, prototyping, and the role of technology in their creative process.
These online interviews, each lasting 30 minutes, were funded by the Scholarship Personal Investigator Novell (FI) Cuerpos Conectados, ES.
The artists interviewed include Stefanie Egedy, Eduardo Montelli, Felipa Pinto and Anaisa Franco. The full content of these interviews is set to be published on [joanaburd.com/interviews] after the PhD research presentation. The anticipated publication date is in early 2024, consistent with a prior agreement.
Stefanie Egedy Interview with Joana Burd
18 of August 2023
Stefanie's Website: https://stefanieegedy.com/
Burd > How does your creative process work? Can you articulate any kind of methodology you use?
Egedy > When we're talking specifically about my research, or more broadly my approach to sound, my understanding evolved the more I engaged with it. I realized that the quality of the sound was paramount in my experience. At a macro level, I prefer a sound generated at a high quality. It's not necessarily about right or wrong, but more about the clarity and pleasantness of the sound wave. The speaker system plays a crucial role in the creative process. In my perspective, a bad speaker can ruin good work. If we're not talking about my specific work with low frequencies, that's it.
"Bodies and Subwoofers" serves as the title because it encapsulates everything - the name of the work, the methodology, and the research. The methodology usually involves three steps. The first step is understanding the dimensions of the room. Initially, my approach was focused on the minimum number of speaker capsules needed to achieve the sound massage level I deemed important. However, my perspective has shifted. Now, the first step is understanding the room itself. I've realized the sculptural aspect of the speaker and the experience it offers to the listeners is vital. So, it's about the speaker as a sculpture and harmonizing it with the room rather than just the sound it produces.
Once that's established, the second step is to understand, in that room and with that speaker arrangement, which low sound frequencies have very few or almost no tonal characteristics and are therefore perceived by the body. These are what I term "transparent". While it's impossible to eliminate all other wave returns that create additional sonorities in the room, I choose the ones that are more pleasant or those that, in my view, don't cause discomfort due to the room's vibration.
The final step, once there's clarity about the room's sound, is the compositional part. This involves selecting and arranging sounds for the piece.
An essential aspect of my work is understanding the audience and the context. The contextual relationship is crucial. If I'm designing a piece for a club, it might be more rhythmic, referencing faster electronic dance music. But in a more relaxed setting, I have greater freedom. I like to explore rhythm, but I can also delve into other compositional forms that might demand more from the listener. It's not always immediate, like electronic dance music.
Burd > Do you believe that the vibration or the effect of your work can be considered a mode of knowledge or self-awareness?
Egedy> Yes, I absolutely believe so, 100%. The vibrations and the effects they generate are more than just sensory experiences. They tap into deeper levels of consciousness and allow individuals to connect with aspects of themselves that might remain dormant otherwise.
Burd > When we work with vibration that is not just limited to our ears and our brain, per se, how do you view this? Do you think about it? Do you put an emotional intention behind it or is it more of an aesthetic approach when you arrange it?
Egedy > Entirely, it's deeply intentional. In the early days, there was always a connection to the body, which drew me to frequencies because I felt them. But today, for me, it's undeniably an intense experience. The way I orchestrate it, many people have never felt it before. My goal is for the participant to have a transformative journey - a before, during, and after. Ideally, the "during and after" would be feelings of relaxation, reduced stress, tension, anxiety, and even physical pain alleviation.
My art is increasingly becoming therapeutic, not just aesthetic. It's about creating a pleasant, inviting, and relaxing experience so people can be open and vulnerable. I see people striving to connect with my work. In my perspective, for my work to achieve its desired effect, it cannot be something aggravating. I could create a sound that's annoying, where no one would want to remain in the room, but that's not my aim. I want the opposite. While what might be soothing for one person could be disturbing to another, given the intense nature of the sound, I strive to make it as universally inviting as possible.
Burd> Do you always listen to your pieces in the intended environment before setting them up? I understand there's a vast difference between experiencing a sound art piece, say with quality headphones at home, and working on a composition in a real space, much like you explained in your creative process. There's the dimension of the physical space, the equipment setup, and how it's all orchestrated. How does that work for you?
Egedy> My work is undeniably site-specific. That's what I find magical about low frequencies. Certain elements simply won't work in some spaces, while others might. Every space is unique, just as every organism is. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. I have to be in that space, with the final arrangement, fully immersed. Of course, there are preparatory levels I can execute from my computer, but a simple repositioning of a speaker can entirely change the sonic experience. I must be there, I must mix for that specific room. It's 100% dependent on being present in the environment. While it's a wonderful thing, it also can be seen as a limitation. I can't remotely work on it. I also wouldn't trust anyone else to take my piece and adapt it to a space. I have a specific vision, and only I truly know how it should be executed.
Burd> From what I've observed, does it make a difference to you whether the space is indoor or outdoor? How do you navigate this relationship?
Egedy> It's a constant dialectical relationship with all elements. I view reality as a vast dialectical interplay of things. We live this at all levels, whether we want to or not. It's just another element, another iteration of that. If you've seen my recent video from the mountains, the one I shot at the castle, you'll understand. I created a piece in the mountains, and it was quite challenging. After working so much, like in urban industrial settings, testing these sounds against nature was a whole new game. So, being in the midst of greenery, I had to ask myself, "What makes sense here?"
Yes, every facet of the work, from the lighting conditions, whether or not there'll be seating, how often it plays, and at what time - all these aspects are site-specific and consider the unique conditions and relationship of the location. But I believe that's how life should be. When you're conversing with someone, you have to understand the context, the hermeneutics of the situation. Everything is contextual.
Burd> How does the relationship between silence and auditory stimulation function in your work?
Egedy> In my work, I strategically incorporate moments of silence juxtaposed against distinct auditory signatures, which might be intense for some, especially if it's an unfamiliar sensation. But I also use a kind of sonic signature that might be overwhelming for some, simply because it might be something they've never experienced before. I actually enjoy that challenge, that push and pull. It's incredibly potent. So, I tell my audience, "Take that in!" [Laughs].
I view my work as a medium to confront avoidance. Maybe you don't want to acknowledge a knee problem, or perhaps you're ignoring a friend's plea for help. In a way, my work serves as a metaphor for the ignorance we all, at times, display in our lives. With my pieces, you're forced to feel. There's no escaping it. [Laughs] Many people have shared their emotional reactions with me. Typically, it ranges from relaxation to excitement. Some even mention a kind of sensual arousal, but mostly it's just an overwhelming rush of emotions.