Caly McMorrow, Status Update
“By the time the last word in a sentence is spoken, the first has already been lost.”
I find interest where lines blur between artistic disciplines, techniques, genres, and ideas, and I enjoy exploring relationships between seemingly disparate elements. I’m inspired by the juxtaposition and merging of old with new; live with automatic; organic with electronic; and creator with audience. Common themes in my work are the mutable nature of memory and history, and alternate versions of the past, present, and future. I’m influenced by aesthetics of retrofuturism and science fiction.
My new body of work includes installations incorporating sound, light, interactivity, and indeterminacy based on participant input. Something—a light or sound or activity—changes with the intervention of audience members. Interactive work challenges the assumptions that art is to be seen and not touched and that technology, art, and creation are inaccessible or reserved for an elite.
Status Update explores communication and the simultaneously cyclical, mutable, and ephemeral nature of time and memory. Audience participants are invited to move through a spiral of spoken recordings and vintage lights. Using an antique phone, they may record an answer to a question for the next participants to hear. Sound and light move together through the spiral, and as older recordings progress through, new thoughts begin the same journey from the center outward.
The illumination of a lightbulb is often associated with new thoughts, ideas, or revelations. Thoughts and ideas become words, and words become record. Any form of record can capture these singular moments that would otherwise be more ephemeral, but often a record can be easily overwritten, destroyed, forgotten, or misinterpreted. In this installation, recorded responses are collected, separated from their questions, possibly repeated, possibly discarded, and open to the interpretations of those listening.
These recordings originate from an antique telephone, a physical representation and reminder of how technological advances have changed immensely yet still fulfill our basic desire to share information and stay connected. Status Update asks its participants to use an antique to record a thought that will soon be mostly lost to history and its interpretations. New ideas become technological advancement and innovation, but they are always linked to what came before.
TITLE TBD – Patricia Briggs
Status Update is a sound and light installation inspired by Facebook, where informal written communication takes on the collaborative character of spoken language, as “status updates” constantly mark time by pushing earlier posts further down the page. A new textual practice has emerged as users follow the prompt “what’s on your mind” and contribute posts to the unending, collectively written text. The functions served by this new writing practice and its impact on its users’ subjectivity comprise new fields of linguistic and philosophical study, while Facebook offers a new generation of artists fodder for reflection on the nature of language and the status of the spoken word.
In this age of constantly updated social media, what is the difference between the written and spoken word? Speaking preceded writing in the development of human communication just as it does in child development. Philosophers often link human consciousness with the spoken word, which seems, more than writing, authentically from the self. Spoken communications have intonation, inflection, volume, pitch, and pulse, and unlike written texts, which are the products of more cautious deliberation, they are invisible and ephemeral. By the time the last word in a sentence is spoken, the first has already been lost. Yet these ephemeral phonic signs—spoken words—are the threads with which we phenomenologically weave ourselves into being and human consciousness.
An electronic musician as well as an installation artist, Caly McMorrow focuses on the auditory as she explores the ontology of the spoken word in Status Update, a transparent sound and light chamber shrouded in shadows. Participants activate the spiraling structure, setting off a cascade of sound and light, by speaking into the antique telephone receiver at its center. They hear the sound of their own utterances moving across space, broadcast singularly at intervals through a series of twenty-seven small speakers arranged in a spiral in a dimly lit corner of the gallery. As each speaker emits the sound of the participant’s voice, a corresponding lightbulb briefly flashes as the words hang for a moment in the air, suggesting that the artist may view words as the sparks of consciousness. Significantly, McMorrow does not stop with the singular speaker. Rather, adapting Facebook’s collaborative style of speaking/writing that unfolds in time as an accumulation, Status Update creates an audio collage of participants’ voices, which, as the lingering traces of consciousness, represent the murmuring sound of humanity.
I am a sound designer, installation artist, and composer and performer of experimental electronic music. I blend the DIY-driven culture of circuit bending and hardware hacking with a background in classical music and technical theater. I!m inspired by the juxtaposition and merging of old with new; live with automatic; organic with electronic; and creator with audience. Common themes in my work include the mutable nature of memory and history; and alternate versions of the past, present and future. I!m influenced by various aesthetics of retrofuturism and science fiction.
b. 1977, Minneapolis
works St. Paul
Caly McMorrow is an electronic musician, sound designer, and interactive installation artist based in St. Paul. One of few women in the DIY-driven culture of music made with video games and altered electronic toys, she blends these and live-looping technology with a background in classical saxophone and piano to create layered compositions of “ambient glitch.” She is equally at home at a warehouse party or a gallery opening, and has performed and exhibited in varied venues such as the Walker Art Center, the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts (as a performer, juror, panelist, and installation artist), San Francisco’s Noisebridge Hacker Space, The Tank’s Bent Fest, First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, and the Rochester Art Center.