Some Thoughts on Music and Engagement

Chris Kallmyer (InterArts Visiting Artist 2012) makes work with everyday objects like sheep, cheese, lawnmowers, and car horns to create site-specific works in places like museums, open fields, igloos and parking structures. Given during his visit to Columbia’s InterArts department last year, his artist talk described his unique careers path, from playing in punk bands in DC, his brief career as a orchestral musician in Europe, his role as dedicated cheese-monger, and current work making events and installations that articulates the dynamic between art and life – exploring the processes, customs, and environments through which humans have altered landscape and place.

While at Columbia, Kallmyer led a special full-day workshop session with graduate students in the InterArts program The group traveled around indoors to a series of campus spaces, working through exercises in mindfulness and listening. Chris then led the group through some outdoor public spaces where they focused on observation and listening to the space.

Once these foundation exercises were completed, the group trained their sights on creating spatialized and site-specific artwork based solely off audio samples from the meme Nyan Cat.

The finished work used everyday materials: teakettles, balloons, bells, rebar, and voice, as well as some not-so-everyday materials: basic electronics, sine tones, and environmentally reactive algorithm… and of course, the aforementioned Nyan Cat.

Post-workshop discussions centered on topics including sound art, site, human geography, “going for it,” gestalt psychology, and things that go bump in the night. To see more photographs of the visit and installations, click here.