Christina Battle and Adán De La Garza on video art and the quasi-imperialistic nature of sound
Several years ago, when Adán De La Garza and Christina Battle moved to Denver from cities with vibrant media arts communities, they sought out the same thing here. They did not find it. As video artists, they craved an artistic network, a local scene where they could bounce off ideas and find a home for their projects. Colorado has an amazing array of experimental film- and video-makers working outside mainstream traditions, but too often people find themselves isolated. De La Garza and Battle opted to correct that and launched Nothing to See Here, an organization devoted to showcasing a variety of underrepresented media arts: sound, film, video and performance. Tomorrow they'll host the second edition of Loud!!!, with several short films and a performance exploring the political and aesthetic power of sound at the Sidewinder. In advance of that event, Westword spoke with De La Garza and Battle about their plans.
Courtesy of Paul Destieu Fade Out is one of the videos featured at Loud!!!
Westword: Talk about the screening.
Adán De La Garza: It's a series of clips and small artists' videos where sound is the driving force. The content varies, but the selections we made are based on sound as the dominant aspect of the videos.
Can you break that down?
De La Garza: We're thinking about these things in terms of what it means to be loud and how sound is a quasi-imperialistic art medium. It's a non-optional sort of experience.
Christina Battle: I think often in video works, it's so image-based that because there is a focus on something happening, artists often delegate sound and music to the background, as an afterthought. All of these works bring sound to the foreground, so they are conceptually about sound, and they're also aesthetically and visually about sound as well.
These short videos were made by a number of different artists around the world. When we curate things for Nothing to See Here, we try not to make judgments about whether or not a work is developed for an artistic space or audience. There are a number of works that we found on Youtube that conceptually fit with this idea that we have about sound and its relationship with video. Some of these people might not think that they were making an artwork specifically.
Can you unpack this notion that sound is quasi-imperialistic? Where are you coming from?
De La Garza: When things are visual you can close your eyes and remove yourself from that space; whereas, you can't really eliminate sound. The person who is emitting the sound is in control of the space that they're in. Be it speaking or utilizing an amplification system, sound dominates the space and delegates what happens within that space.
Battle: We're interested in looking at artists who are not taking sound for granted and reminding us that we should be thinking about this not only in artistic works, but on a daily level as well. Not all of the works take on the issue in this politicized sense, but this is how we're coming at these ideas and these issues in sound. We sought out works that are highlighting sound and allowing us to think through this greater idea.
Sound is something that we don't think about. Both of us also teach. One thing that I always say to my students at the beginning of the semester is that if you're looking at something you don't feel comfortable looking at, you can remove yourself from the situation. With visuals, it's so simple. You can just close your eyes. With sound you have to remove yourself from the space entirely.
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