Lecture Review #2 – Lesley Flanigan

Janeesa Jeffery

4/30/12

Lecture Review #2

Lesley Flanigan

Visual Art: Amplifications

            Lesley Flanigan visited CU Boulder to talk about her type of performance art on April 24, 2012. Unfortunately, due to a small error on our website regarding the time, her actual lecture I was not able to attend, but her workshop following her lecture I was able to go to and witness. Lesley is a New York based composer, vocalist, artist, and performer. Her most recent work has been dealing with amplifications. An amplifier converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal from musical instruments. For instance an electronic guitar, an electric bass, or an electric keyboard and these are then turned into an electronic signal that is capable of driving a loudspeaker that can be heard by the performers and audience.

Lesley is a type of musician that is much different then what one would expect to hear today from mainstream artists and musicians. She is inspired by the concrete elements of electronic sound. She builds her own instruments using very little electronics, microphones and speakers. She performs with these instruments together with traditional instrumentation that frequently includes her own voice. Lesley can create a kind of physical electronic music that accompanies both the transparency and residue of the process by making sound from a pallet of noise and slight deficiency. Flanigan built her first speaker feedback instrument, Speaker Synth, in 2007. She has continued on to build analogous systems ability from raw speaker cones, contact microphones and wood. Being playable by hand, her instruments have of a very fragile tangibility to electronic sound and she layers tones of speaker feedback and her own voice with the amplifications.

For her workshop she had us pry the computer speakers apart and take each of the parts out of them. She let us use the back of hammers and screwdrivers to get the speakers open any way we were able to. We could basically get them open any way we wanted to that wasn’t important, the significance of taking the speakers apart was that we got to the amplifier without breaking it and the mother board as well. After that we left the speakers alone because for her workshop the next day students were going to use the amplifier and the mother board to reassemble the speakers into their own wooden stands to make instruments like Lesley does herself. Lesley takes these speakers and makes them into musical instruments and also performed with them. She sang through a microphone and it went through all the different speakers at once, in her way this is performance art. By doing this I think she outreaches and at the same time creates new boundaries for musical improvisation.  She explained to us how each of these speakers has its own life and where ever they were before we are taking them out and giving them a new life once we place them into the new wooden stand.

Going to Lesley Flanigan’s workshop was an unbelievable experience to attend. I actually think that it was worthwhile much more than sitting and listening to her lecture about her work. Not to say that it wasn’t as important but to be able to see her hands on doing the work she does was indescribable. Music isn’t just limited to studios, clubs, bands, and concerts I really think that she redefined the meaning of what music is and what it means to be a true artist. It was definitely a cool way to see how she operates within her own realms and the way she produces music the way she wants to and enjoys doing what she calls music. This goes to show that performance art is really a broad aspect and that a lot of intricate and intriguing things are deeper than just the words performance art.

2 Responses

  1. It definitely seems like the workshop was the way to go! I bet it was a great hands on experience that enabled you to see a part of her art making process. It is interesting pondering over the idea of performance art and what defines it exactly.

  2. Having also attended the workshop, I definitely agree with both of you on how valuable of an experience that was! Her performance was also very inspriring, and her music is incredibly haunting and has really made me contemplate the music that i listen to. I hope you were able to also see the speakerbox installation outside the VAC last week, as those were very similar to Leslie Flanigan’s work!

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