59.59 | Corinne de San Jose
Corinne de San Jose’s fifth solo exhibition at Silverlens
Aside from working with photography and video, the artist is a professional film sound designer, with multiple awards to her name. Her previous exhibitions with Silverlens such as I’ve been hiding in the smallest places (2018), The Week Ends The Week Begins (2015), Conversation 17 (2013), and Some Die Young and Some Die Old (2010) solely featured her photography practice.
In 59.59, De San Jose combined her artistic instincts as both sound designer and photographer, trying to make sense of the duality between sound and silence.
“Silence is a concept I constantly negotiate with. I think about the weight and space it creates. I think about its relation to noise, because it can only exist in that duality. And as the world around us has become increasingly chaotic, I’ve also grown nostalgic for it. Silence has become this precious, precarious state I willfully have to orchestrate.
I explored the different narratives surrounding our representations of silence. The sound of crickets chirping has become an aphorism for silence. In films, it’s a signifier for a calm, quiet evening. In everyday use, crickets is the thing we meme for the punchline to an unfunny joke, the silence in an awkward conversation, the lack of response from a question. The phrase, ‘radio silence,’ has evolved from the idea of silence to make space for mayday calls into a strict silence that one ‘performs’ to sever connection to another.
In 59.59, 118 radios play an audio loop of crickets chirping, broadcast through 2 different FM frequencies, half playing field recordings of crickets in their natural habitat, the other half playing recordings from a farm that breeds crickets for human consumption.
I once taught a sound design class and played different sound clips of natural ambiences as a class exercise. I wanted to demonstrate the idea that evolution has programmed us to feel a certain way about specific sounds. For instance, birdsong makes us feel calm, a loud fire alarm triggers the body to produce cortisol, etc. But what I found out after talking to my students was that this is not as hard and fast a rule as sound designing clichés would have us believe. So much of our reaction to sound is also formed by personal experience, memories, from our own narratives.
What I love most about sound isn’t just sound itself. I’m more interested in figuring out how our own narratives can be told through sound; in how sound is perceived, filtered, interpreted. I am curious if I can bring my own sound design practice into the walls of the gallery, and in this work, if it is at all possible to represent silence without trying to attain ‘silence.’ I hesitate to call this strictly sound art, but the work has everything to do with the process of listening, hearing, and feeling.”
-Artist statement by Corinne de San Jose