Charlotte Piene (b.1985) studied composition at The Norwegian Academy of Music and received an MA in Fine Arts at Bergen Academy of Art and Design spring 2016. She is coming to Bodø with the work “Sound Waves of Inner and Outer Territories”, in Galleri Stormen.
Piene works mainly with questions about identity, personality, aloneness and the interaction between people.
What can be (in) the spaces and the energies between us? And why does some meetings imprint themselves in our minds more than others?These questions are, among others, a starting point for a poetical exploration in sound, text and different visual materials or media. Sound within something else is an underlying cause for playing with the different elements, and to see how they react and communicate with each other.
Pienes work includes instrumental and electronic music, installations, performance, video, text and staged music, and has been performed/exhibited in Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Georgia, France, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Austria, China and the Faroe Islands.
Do you have any thoughts on music’s role in our identity?
This is a big question, at least for me as my work very often combines the idea of music, sound and human interactions. I have a theory, or idea, that we all have our own timbre, a sound or a frequency inside our bodies – An internal system of sound. A timbre that resonates the core in ourselves, which in the end defines us. We are always sending out this tone, but still we can´t hear it through the ears. However, the body is listening and perceive everything that surrounds us, also the things we don´t hear consciously. We are always tuning into each other, people harmonize or discord, exactly like pitches and timbres. Any tension makes a certain energy. It is interesting how we use words from sound and music to describe relational situations between people, like “that resonates with me” or “we’re on the same wavelength” etc. It is a fundamental of the humanity and also essential things that makes us what we are.
Where do you find the ideas that get you started? What inspires you?
For me it is important to have something essential in the ground, something to explore, both for me and maybe also the audience. In my installation “Sound Waves of Inner and Outer Territories” which I show at the festival, I explore topics like proxemics and social spaces. Again, that something in-between us that tell us subconsciously what we like or not, and that our body reflects this in its own language. This sums up the idea of the imaginary audible, which I’ve been working with in the later years. Questions around identity, personalities, social spaces etc, are some of my main starting points in my projects. When I compose for musicians (real people!), I would very much like to get them to do something in addition to “only” play their instrument. I want to get as close as I can into their core, and also get themselves closer to it. If you do something outside what you normally do, you often find something new.
In addition to studies in composition you also hold a MA in Fine Art. Can you say something about the way you think as an artist/composer?
If I work alone on a project I very often start with a visual idea of the whole “thing”. In that way I see and hear the sound that goes to that atmosphere, that room, that action or that image. That differs a lot from my experience of studying at the Academy of Art, where you very often start with a specific material and makes something out of it, without necessarily having a plan of what it will be at the end. You shape things as it comes and “it” takes form. Some composers also work like this, of course, and not every artist works like this either, but when I studied Fine Art, it was a long process to understand this method because I used to start with the idea or vision of the whole piece in the end.
I was also encouraged and challenged to work within other forms of materiality, and not only through sound. I tried to be more open and started making small illustrations and write about sound, listening and social contexts in more poetic form. This way I found other ways of expressing music. The listeners, or readers, has to make their own versions of each sound in these kind of works – and explore the notion of sound. That activates the audience and one have to listen in a different way than we perhaps are used to.
The sound floats like liquids and the vibration transfer it into your body, from the ground below you. There is nothing between you now. You are a part of it. It is a part of you. You share the sound, and the vibration tries to match the energy in your body. It is not similar. You get affected by the disturbance, of that something which just entered the room. Your space. Your inner space.
Everything that surrounds me, affects me. Even if I hear or see it unconsciously. It changes my perception, and also how I act in different situations. Who am I when I meet people I know well, an acquaintance, a total stranger, or when I am all alone? I wonder if every human being has an internal system of sound inside, a kind of timbre or a frequency that we are sending out from our bodies. Is this timbre the reason for our ability to connect with other people or places? We are tuning into each other. Everything has its own frequency and we harmonize or discord with it, like pitches and timbres. What happens when something from the outside hits your most inner interior, your own frequency?
In my practice, I try to combine the idea of the imaginary audible with social atmospheres, using sound, text, performance and drawing, as well as questioning various ways of listening.