AU Alum Residency at the Cité Internationale (Paris)
Alfred alumni Ella Medicus (2015) recently completed a three month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, where she created her proposed project, Human Resonance; a sound art performance in collaboration with herself and volunteer residents. In Human Resonance, there is no written notation. Singers are only instructed to make one continuous tone with their breath, but are given free will over what tones they sing. In this way, the piece is unique each time it is performed. Medicus took inspiration from Plainchant, a historical style of singing without lyrics that was traditionally practiced by monks before written music. By referencing this history, but extending it to remove all context of song, like melody and tempo, the only thing that remains is the droning sound of the voice. This allows for sound to be examined as a physical medium.
She has also been meeting and collaborating with other artists at the Cité, including working on a radio broadcast with Edy Giraldo, an artist from Colombia. The broadcast, aired by DUUU Radio in Paris in December, is titled Auspicium, and consists of a reading of text written by Giraldo and Medicus about the various ways that flocks of starlings, called “murmurations” have been interpreted throughout history. Ranging from mythological, to metaphysical, to scientific, the show is a poetic composition that weaves the narration with bird sounds, music, and a sound piece that Giraldo asked Medicus to write for the show. The recorded show can be found on her website.
In her open studio night, which is a weekly program run by the Cité, she presented a diptych video, titled Uncertain Certainty, which consists of two screens showing vibrating water patterns undulating back and forth between light and dark across the monitors. The audio consists of readings in both French and English of a short poem Medicus completed in 2021. The poem is written from the perspective of a mind itself, or a theoretical expansive conglomeration of minds. It examines the nature of perception and the faults that human perception has. For example, vision is a great gift, but as soon as you start to see, you learn there are things you are not capable of seeing. The piece points to a duality and balance that exists in everything.
The video was paired with a sculpture consisting of a plate of water connected to a speaker, vibrating patterns into the water. The audio playing from the speaker, which creates the vibrations, is seven compositions that she wrote using an open source program called Pure Data to produce sound wave oscillations. The piece is a nod to mythologies about pools of water used for the practice of scrying to see the future and to get a glimpse of the seven layers of the heavens or the universe. The work from her open studio was also exhibited in a group show in Villa Radet, in Paris, as well as in Syracuse, New York.
“The kind of intensive research I did during my art history classes at Alfred helped me learn to inform myself, which gave me a structure to operate from, wherever my curiosity takes me.” Says Medicus, also stating that her experience in class helped inspire as well as develop her interests in historical aspects of art and culture from around the world.
Clips of her sound performance and other projects can be seen on her website: