This is an excerpt from Sight Specific’s interview with sound artist Michael Junokas. Presented through Sixty Regional.
In partnership with pt.fwd, a new series of contemporary music and sonic arts performances featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, Sight Specific will be publishing conversations between the featured artists and pt.fwd director Eddie Breitweiser.
Michael Junokas will be performing on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 8pm at the McLean County Arts Center. All pt.fwd performances are free and open to the public. Follow pt.fwd on Facebook and Instagram for more information, including upcoming performance dates.
Eddie: For the pt.fwd performance in February, we wanted to have a conversation with you so that we could get more familiar with your work. Today we wanted to talk about three different areas: history, region, and fun. So first, historically speaking, can you place the work you’re going to be performing for us? We ask that because part of the charge that we put on our pt.fwd performers is for them to bring something new that they haven’t put in front of an audience before. They should be challenging themselves within their own practice, and challenging our audience, as well. How is this work new? How is it new to you? How is it new to the audience?
Mike: So, a lot of the stuff that I’m going to be performing is addressing mainly formalist tendencies and problems. I’m looking at things from a vertical standpoint. In a lot of my work I’ve been doing up to this point, you’re sort of trapped in this temporal landscape where you have to go in a progression from the start to the end. So, what I’ve been doing a lot is wondering how you can make form from vertical perspective. So not thinking of it from a start to an end but thinking of it in terms of layers on top of each other, and how that static representation translates into something that’s inescapably temporal, like sound or music. And so there’s a variety of different vehicles with which I try to achieve this and address these problems. I think each of them in their own way is sort of novel and new.
So one thing to think about with sound is interacting with sound and the physical mechanics and kinematics that you draw from to actually produce sound, and playing with that as a manipulation of space rather than time. I’m thinking about sound as a spatial component rather than a temporal component, and seeing how that changes the form itself. Addressing this metaphorically—so, manipulating sound in literal space, how you manipulate it physically—but how you structure the actual form itself. So rather than thinking about a perspective of events occurring one after the other, thinking of these events almost non-linearly. This idea of a nonlinear temporal landscape is not explored very much mainly because it’s very difficult to wrap your mind around, but also because tools haven’t quite been developed in that way for sound.
Featured Image: Three people stand in a darkened room facing three projections of cosmic imagery. The pt.fwd logo is in the lower right corner. Image credit: Michael Junokas.
This article is part of Sixty Regional, an ongoing initiative by Chicago-based arts publication Sixty Inches From Center which partners with artists, writers, and artist-run spaces throughout the Midwest and Illinois to highlight the artwork being produced across the region. This work is made possible through the support of Illinois Humanities, which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly through the Illinois Arts Council Agency, as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
Edward Breitweiser is an Illinois-based artist, musician, and writer. Incorporating models from various intellectual traditions and bodies of knowledge, Breitweiser organizes particulars (software, electronics, audio/visual signals, text, networked distribution channels, improvisational music, performative activities) into arrangements whose products are the macro-result of the emergent interactions of all components at once.
His works have been presented at Festival MusicAlp (Courchevel, France); Network Music Festival (Birmingham, UK); the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago); Illinois State University Galleries (Normal, IL); MobileHCI (Stockholm); Salle Cortot (Paris); threewalls (Chicago); the Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice); Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL); the Fuse Factory (Columbus); and the McLean County Arts Center (Bloomington, IL).