Lesley Flanigan (Tony McKendry)

Tony McKendry

Lesley Flanigan

Lesley Flanigan resides in a nitch of the art world that I have become very interested in over the last few years in my artistic eduction, sound art. As a DJ, Music Producer, and Sound Artist myself, I am always searching for new and groundbreaking ways to use sound in a creative way that has never been seen, or more appropriately, heard before. I was very excited to attend Flanigan’s lecture for this reason, as Flanigan’s work with sound is absolutely revolutionary and very inspiring to me. To the common mind, sound art is often associated with the most popular version of artistic sound expression, Music; Flanigan constantly breaks the boundaries of these associations, ascending to a higher plane of sound, and creating “music” the likes of which has never been heard.

Flanigan set the stage for her lecture by playing us a piece from her album (which can be found on iTunes, but more on that later), Flanigan stated that the piece was titled Sleep, upon further research I found that the piece was actually titled Sleepy on iTunes. Sleepy was composed of ethereal tones layered over one another to create a reverberating long pulse of sound; this airy tone repeated over and over, creating a sort of rhythm, without there being any sort of meter or true tempo to follow. I spent the entirety of the piece, as I do at many sound performances, be they concerts or art exhibitions, trying to decipher how the piece was created; being experienced with many digital sound creation methods I was interested to learn what specific methods she used. Unfortunately she did not speak too much on her process, but only that she used her voice to create most of the sounds in the piece.

Flanigan then went on to talk about her past and upbringing as an artist. Her use of vocals in Sleepy stemmed from her background as a singer; with a simultaneous interest in Art, it was only natural that Flanigan melded together her two true passions. Her education seemed to be all over the place; some sculpture here, some music there, woodworking, and even some electrical engineering can be found on her resume. Combining this cornucopia of talents has turned Flanigan into the artist that she is today; making use of her combined talents to create pieces that incorporate sculpture as well as sound. One of the most interesting parts of the entire lecture was when Flaningan showed some footage of her testing a speaker she had built during her time in college for the first time. I could tell that this was a groundbreaking experience for the artist, she had created sound with her own two hands, a physical manifestation of sound that she could manipulate and build upon for her own artistic purposes.

Flanigan went on to show more of her works, most being sound sculptures that incorporated speakers and a feedback system to create sound. I found this very interesting as with traditional sound equipment speakers are used as a means to end; typically some sort of input (an instrument or microphone for example) is routed to the speakers, and they are used to amplify the sound of the input. Flanigan removes the input from the equation and uses only the electronic feedback signal from the speakers to create sound; in one piece she even incorporated her voice into the feedback loop to create a different sound as the sound of her voice reverberated through the speakers, slowly becoming more and more distorted by the feedback.

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