In his artistic practice,Brandon LaBelle addresses social life and cultural narratives, often through sound, performance, and site-specific installations. Much of his recent work deals with the complexity of sound, comparing its invisible and immaterial nature with its reception in and around the physical body. One such project, Notes toward a Sketch of a Sonic Body, a two-part installation, was presented in 2011 at Image Music Text in London. The first part, The Sonic Body, is a collection of the audio traces of dancing bodies: LaBelle made recordings of dancers as they listened to music through headphones and as they responded to the sounds of their own movements. The Sonic Body was complemented by LaBelle’s audio recording of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing (1949) as read by a deaf person.
LaBelle’s work for Radio Break, The Echo Project, similarly explores themes of mediation and feedback. The work consists of a compilation of audio recordings collected from the streets of Santiago, Chile, for broadcast in Boyle Heights’ Mariachi Plaza. LaBelle and his collaborators recorded their own, sometimes depreciated and sometimes exaggerated recollections of conversations and utterances overheard in Santiago. They’ve compiled the disparate recordings and present them together in The Echo Project, a narrative that serves as a mediated echo of the words they overheard. The project explores the capacity of the echo for doubling, shadowing, haunting, feeding back, and making new.
LaBelle, who currently lives and works in Berlin, received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1998 and completed his PhD at the London Consortium in 2005. He has had recent solo shows and performances at Image Music Text, London; General Public, Berlin; Pieter Lab, Los Angeles; and the Tate Modern, London. He also has participated in group exhibitions at the Panoramas Biennial, Bordeaux; the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem; the 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Allegro; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; and the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam. LaBelle is a prolific writer whose recent publications include Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006) and Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010).
Participants in The Echo Project included:
Sara Jiménez, Carlos Sanhueza,Sebastián Valenzuela, Karen Contreras, Camila Delso, Marla Michell, Oscar González, Chi Hua Salinas, Andrea Baeza, Aarón Duran, Valentina González, Hernán Rodriguez, Carla Díaz, Francisco Contreras, Marcela Gálvez, and Fernando Andreo.
The work was developed as part of a workshop held at UNIACC, Santiago de Chile, October 2011.
Special thanks to Rodrigo Tisi, Andrea Josch, and Carolina Pino. And to the participants.