'Glice' is a work that balances ice and glass. It is part sculpture, part photography, and part sound. It began life as an abstract sculpture, made as part of a larger body of work by artist Diego Brambilla. Initially imagined as a plinth with a series of LED's illuminating a photograph buried underneath several layers of roughly cut glass, Diego was interested in embedding sound into the sculpture to create another dimension to the work.
The more Diego told me about the work and the process that led him to create the work, the more enamoured I became with it. And soon I found myself imagining the vast potential that sound could have within this sculpture. I shared my initial wild ideas with Diego and he responded in kind, and what began as an initial consultation (on the logistics of using various speakers within the plinth) soon bloomed into a collaboration to create a hybrid photo-sound-sculpture.
This is the Private View / Performance version of the sound installation - combing all sonic elements as one playable file
Just as the sculpture visually plays with the glossy and reflective features of ice and confuses them with the greenish and clear transparency of the glass, I too wanted the sound element to blur the sonic qualities of ice and glass. As such, I began by collecting sounds of both glass and ice. I sampled glass being hit, glass smashing, glass being crushed under weight, glass being filled by water, etc. I also sampled the sounds of ice cubes being dropped, and crushed, walked on, clinking in glasses, ice being chipped and ice cracking in water, etc. These samples formed the foundation of the piece.
The photograph that sits underneath the glass slates is that of a frozen lake. Curiously, when a large body of water is frozen, impacts on the surface end up creating a strange acoustic phenomenon. As the ice takes impacts, or it cracks, a sound is created; similar to that of a science-fiction laser beam or raygun being fired. This sound, something alien and unnatural from something natural seemed to be a perfect example of what the piece itself represented. And so being June 2017 in London, not a frozen lake near me, I sourced this particular sound from field recordings online.
The initial draft for the 'musical' element of the composition. This was written in order to provide a 'closing point' for the composition.
When it came time to embed the sound within the sculpture, simply adding a speaker into the plinth itself seemed one-dimensional. Instead, I imagined that the sound itself might occur from multiple points within the gallery space. I began splitting the sounds into various elements. (1) Mid-high frequency sounds that could exist at low volume and emit from inside the sculpture and (2) Low-mid frequency sounds that would utilise external speakers and place the sculpture in an entirely new sonic environment.
This meant that when a viewer approached the sculpture they would hear faint noises, and only once they were directly above the sculpture would they hear sounds of glass and ice being crushed, clinked, etc.
The second part to the audio was to exist outside of the sculpture. In the room itself sounds similar to heavy objects creaking in large bodies of water would play out every now and then. And then, at random intervals, HUGE laser-like sounds and low-frequency rumbles would momentarily fill the room with the goal of transporting the viewer to the lake.
Having the sound exist both from within the sculpture, as a curiosity for those who ventured towards the sculpture, as well as having sound that existed outside the sculpture, helped to further dissolve the identity of the this hybrid object.
As Diego put it, this object is where ideas of natural and man-made are completely mixed and blurred, twisting and reconfiguring the opposing states of natural and artificial.