marseille tidal gauge aria, Sarah Nance, tidal gauge data from Marseille, FR (1884-2014), sonified and performed by the artist, 2:07 duration, 2019
shroud for an ancient sea: Subsurface meteor craters, fossilized coral reefs, exhumed mountain ranges. These “archived” landscapes are often observable only through fossil records, artifacts, or recorded data. Yet they are inextricably layered within contemporary landscapes, creating entangled strata of geologic and human histories.
In my series shroud for an ancient sea, I locate these resonances between geologic processes and human experience. The site-responsive shrouds vary from expansive textiles to experimental vocal performances, acting as momentary surface layers that point to complex records of deep time within the geo-anthropic landscape.
Marseille tidal gauge aria (pictured above) is a vocal shroud composed from tide level data collected over the past 130 years from a tidal gauge in the bay of Marseille, France. I converted each yearly average tide level into a note within my vocal range and set the resulting atonal composition to a poem from Rasu-Yong Tugen’s Songs from the Black Moon. I perform the piece operatically, drawing on the genre’s propensity for magnified human emotion; the rising sea levels in the bay can be heard in the increasingly higher pitches of the aria.
Beartooth star ii is a modular quilt whose colors are extractions of summer wildflowers, granite, and lichen on the Beartooth Pass in Montana. The eight diamond segments are pieced together from mylar, a material associated with both space exploration and temperature regulation.
points of rupture (alaska glacial event 1999), letterpress print of knitting pattern coded using cryoseismic data, edition of 15 46 x 46 cm, 2020
points of rupture (apollo 15 passive seismic event 1971), letterpress print of knitting pattern coded using cryoseismic data, edition of 15 46 x 46 cm, 2020
points of rupture (hans glacier icevibration 2002), letterpress print of knitting pattern coded using cryoseismic data, edition of 15 46 x 46 cm, 2020
points of rupture (glacier de la plaine morte icequake 2016), letterpress print of knitting pattern coded using cryoseismic data, edition of 15 46 x 46 cm, 2020
In points of rupture, I translated cryoseismic events into knitting patterns through a process that resembles coding. Cryoseisms, or ice quakes, occur in glaciers due to calving events or pooling meltwater. Like melting glaciers, knitting has an intimate relationship with dissolution in its ever-present threat of unraveling into formlessness. The letterpress prints in points of rupture push the structure of knitting to a point of failure, reveling in the form’s inability to contain a seismic event.
Sarah Nance is an interdisciplinary artist based in installation and fiber. She works within the chasm between geologic processes and human experience, locating their entanglements in order to explore a layered perception of place. Nance is currently Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Art at SMU in Dallas, TX. She previously held professorships in Fibres & Material Practices at Concordia University (Montréal, QC) and Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA). Recent exhibitions include Galerie Octave Cowbell in Metz, France; The Factory in Djúpavík, Iceland; Galerie FOFA in Montréal, QC; 1708 Gallery in Richmond, VA; Antenna in New Orleans, LA; TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, AB; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio, TX; Kathrin Cawein Gallery in Forest Grove, OR; and the Pensacola Museum of Art in Pensacola, FL. Past awards include the La Soupée Project Grant (Galerie Diagonale), and the Fountainhead Fellowship (VCU). Nance has participated in artist residencies in Reykjavík and Skagaströnd, Iceland; much of her research continues to be based in Iceland and coastal regions of Canada and the US.
Sarah performs marseille tidal gauge aria, Sun Jun 20, 11:30am, as a part of Overburden programming.