Our Nature, 2007

— Sound Installation
Detail, Soil Art Gallery, photo: Steven Miller
Installation view, Soil Art Gallery, photo: Steven Miller
Installation view, Soil Art Gallery, photo: Steven Miller

Our Nature is a collaborative piece by artists Yann Novak and Gretchen Bennett.  Each artist’s work involves a cataloging and documenting of their daily surroundings and a translation of the emotional and psychological impact their environments have on them. By removing these objects, images and sounds from their natural habitats, they produce distilled facsimiles of their experiences and, through further refinement, reflections of their personal experience.

In Our Nature, Bennett and Novak turn the lenses and mics on each other. Living in identical lofts in the Tashiro-Kaplan, one above the other, the artists filter their creative practices through the spaces they live in and explore the similarities and differences in both their experience of life in that particular building, as well as the surrounding neighborhood. Presenting this work at Soil Art Gallery is an intricate part of the artists’ vision. Located just four floors down from the artists’ residences, Soil embodies the cooperative aspects of the community in which they live and work.

Novak accesses Bennett’s world and practice through two on location sound recordings. The first recording was made in the center of Bennett’s empty loft and catches the subtle acoustic signatures of the space created by the actual architecture and the way Bennett chose to personalize it. The second recording was taken from the windowsill catching the unique urban sounds Bennett experiences each day. Novak explores the push and pull the neighborhood has on his fellow artist by altering these two recordings and uses the Gallery itself as the battleground. Presented as a 4.2 installation, the two recordings replicate an internal and external struggle for prominence. The speakers positioned in the center of the space play the altered internal recording, while the speakers positioned near the windows and entrance of the gallery play the contrasting external recording. The effect is harmonious competition for acoustic real estate, mimicking Bennett’s everyday life.