Chris Kallmyer brought some sunny optimism from California to a week of cloudy weather in Chicago. During the four days he was at InterArts he presented a lecture, spent time one-on-one in studio visits, and led a workshop and “sound safari” through Chicago’s south loop neighborhood.
In the half-day workshop, Kallmyer led students in a number of exercises in mindful listening designed to increase focus and awareness, including the popular “Floortet” and “Clump” exercises. Kallmyer’s intent was not to frame it as a spiritual experience, but rather to explore how to make mindful listening part of an everyday practice of making sound. The workshop included many technical shortcuts to making resonant chambers for installation sounds using inexpensive and easy-to-use technology, and culminated in a hallway installation at 916 South Wabash Avenue.
In his lecture Sheep, Failure, and the Emergent Potential of Site, Kallmyer discussed his deeply community-driven and collaborative approach to making installations through the use of sound. He discussed his how his experiences in punk bands when in Washington D.C. shaped his ideas about how art should be, and the kinds of energy possible through music and participatory culture.
Throughout the lecture Kallmyer presented many recent projects, including several he completed in collaboration with the L.A.-based Machine Project collective at the Walker Art Center, as part of their “open field” community initiative. Their sound pieces, created through participatory performances and and community workshops, were informed by the site and context of Minnesota, incorporating an eclectic array of elements such as lawnmowers, watermelon, sheep, and igloos alongside traditional instruments such as trumpets and trombones.
Spending time with InterArts MFAs in studio visits filled the last day of Kallmyer’s trip.
Individual sessions were spent discussing each student’s work-in-progress, and exploring their processes, relationship to environment, use of landscape, and connection to community.