Soundfigures: Films by Aura Satz

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 7:30 pm

(Near) extinct technologies make sound visible in this program of shorts delving into ideas of knowledge, memory, and communication. On a Chladni Plate, a device that marked the birth of acoustics, grains of sand, moving like Busby Berkeley dancers, form intricate patterns in response to changing sound frequencies, their shapes recalling the utopian quest for a “pure,” onomatopoeic alphabet. Wax cylinder recordings combine with modern scientific instruments to animate a text by Rainer Maria Rilke on the possibility of hearing the dead by playing their skulls with a gramophone needle. A histrionic voice-over, translated into a wave of small flames on a Ruben’s Tube, provokes unexpected associations, from the biblical burning bush to various acts of ventriloquism in pop culture. Hand-drawn compositions by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram are run through her radical invention, the Oramics Machine. Kaleidoscopic effects in the lamphouse of a 35mm-film printer honour Natalie Kalmus, colour consultant on masterpieces of the Technicolor era. The eyes of the George Eastman family and early Hollywood stars reveal chromatic distortions in some early colour film tests. And in a dramatic finale, Satz and experimental filmmaker Lis Rhodes encode their voices as abstract light patterns on 16mm mono and 35mm stereo filmstrips in a collaborative exploration of sound-image synchronicity.

Onomatopoeic Alphabet | Great Britain 2010.  DCP. 5:35 mins.
Sound Seam | Great Britain 2010. DCP. 14:47 mins.
Vocal Flame | Great Britain 2012. DCP. 9:29mins
Oramics: Atlantis Anew | Great Britain 2011. DCP. 7:27 mins.
Doorway for Natalie Kalmus | Great Britain 2013. DCP. 8:45 mins
Chromatic Aberration | Great Britain 2014. DCP. 9 mins
In and Out of Synch | Great Britain 2012. 16mm. 20mins.
Programmed by Michèle Smith
Aura Satz is a London-based artist whose practice encompasses film, sound, performance and sculpture. She was nominated for the Film London Jarman Award in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include Colour Opponent Process at Paradise Row, Impulsive Synchronisation at the Hayward Gallery, London (both 2013), Chromatic Aberration, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle (2014), and Eyelids Leaking Light, at George Eastman House, New York (2015). This past year her work was included in the group exhibitions Mirror City: London Artists on Fiction and Reality, Hayward Gallery, and They Used to Call it the Moon, Baltic, Newcastle. 
Image: Universal Language, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.