Thursday, November 7, 2013

ANGUS GALLOWAY | The Sound Art, the Creative Process, and the Journey Behind His Within Exhibition

The following is an interview with Angus Galloway, conducted by MOCA GA intern, Maggie Carroll. Angus and Maggie discuss the artist's personal process, thoughts on past exhibitions, and what it means to be a working artist today.

Photo by Anya Liftig ©
Maggie Carroll: In 2005 you had an exhibition of work at The Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University titled Within. You stated that work, which was largely sound-based,  was inspired by The Species of Spaces, a book by George Perec in which the author documented his "voyage into spaces," stirring you to do the same. The whole artistic process behind your exhibition seems like a strange and counterintuitive process, a scientific experiment of sorts. While most art forms involve drawing inspiration and material from inside the self, Within took those things from an outside source, by means of exploring space and documenting the effect it had on you, however the title implies otherwise. Could you discuss the extent to which the sound clips and other resulting works in Within were a form of personal emotional or mental expression? 

Angus Galloway: [Within] started out in my house and in my bed, [where I had] feelings of rebirth and insulation. I was more aware of sounds, which brought out childlike-ness and playfulness and sense of the womb. Opening the window in my house was a breakthrough of sorts. I quickly became interested in the act of listening over drawing and liked to go to different environments to reflect upon it and describe it in simplistic way - a soundscope.

Click to listen to a sample: "Bed: August 16 - September 6"

MC: How did you maintain your focus and consideration to your surroundings even when the scope of your journey involved larger and larger spaces? What lessons or personal knowledge did you take from the exhibition? 

AG: It was difficult to maintain my focus at times as my surroundings changed and grew in scope. But the space that I was considering was always limited to where I was. So even though the physical spaces became more expansive, I was only able to manage and observe the elements in my immediate space. In addition, the act of recording sound promotes a sense of being present and focusing on what is happening in the moment. While recording sounds underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the final leg of this project I could detect an audible difference between the way that the shouts and conversations from the milling Parisians and excited tourists reflected and reverberated through the space. My project revealed that a space can be shaped and defined by the types of sounds that emerge and by the way sounds behave. 

It was a new experience to design an exhibition around sound – it was the first time I had used an entire gallery for a sound installation. The response was very encouraging; watching the way people experienced the show and really spent time engaging with the material gave me confidence that it was the right decision.

MC: What advantages does the use of sound as an art medium have over the use of visual mediums (i.e. drawing, painting)? What are the most notable differences between the two? 

AG: Sound art is medium without the thrust of financial backing. Both mediums, sound and drawing, have an abstract quality, but sound pieces let you turn over [materials] and engage time with the piece. The point was to get people away from associating audio with music.

MC: One particular body of work that you are known for is your ongoing Left Right drawings in which you draw simultaneously with both hands. How would you describe the effect of your senses of auditory and spatial perception on the work you produced for Within, as well as on the Left Right series?

AG: In the year leading up to my investigation for Within I was doing a lot of field recording, using different microphones and techniques to record and manipulate sound. So when I began working on the Left Right project I was, perhaps unfairly, more in tune with my sense of hearing than other senses. What I enjoyed about sound recording was the way in which it made me feel connected to my surroundings. As soon as I pressed record the space was activated and I was suddenly threaded into this other world of sounds that played on my imagination the way textures, colors, and lines might in a painting. The exploration I undertook for Within work deepened my interest in sound recording and left an indelible impact on all of my senses.

Though it seems obvious, working with sounds required that I use both ears simultaneously to capture and manipulate the audio. When I returned to drawing after finishing the Within project, it seemed imbalanced to use only one hand. I started using both hands at the same time to make marks on the paper. The act of drawing had become connected to the act of listening. I worked in this way for several years but over time that technique led me to new ways to approach mark making and composition. That is my underlying goal for all of these undertakings that it take me somewhere that will lead to someplace new so that I stay interested and push my artistic practice.

MC: Are any of your pieces of emotional catharsis or a result of sudden inspiration? In general, how much of your emotions and present state of mind are reflected in your work?

AG: My work is definitely altered and affected by my emotional state. But I think I was more likely to allow day-to-day emotions to impact my work when I was first starting out. I am more interested in what results from longer dedication to a drawing or a particular project. My creative process is certainly shaped by the accidental discoveries made in and out of the studio. But I find it more interesting when a work can serve as a net collecting the range of my emotions that take. 

MC: Basic but important question: where does the inspiration for your art come from? 

AG: What happens when I’m not trying to make art...paying attention when I open myself up to opportunities that are available or that I’m not aware of, then sifting through the unintentional and observational data.

MC: What artists inspire you? Whose art do you admire the most right now?

AG: Paul Noble - interesting large-scale drawings. [Also] Craig Dongoski from Georgia State Uiversity, [who first] turned me on to sound drawing. He was a strong mentor and had a good way of thinking of work as a sketch instead of a finished product.

MC: Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?

AG: I have a solo show at the Decatur Arts Alliance Gallery, which opens on January 24, 2014.

MC: What advice would you give to young adult artists who want to start making art professionally?

AG: Sustainability is key as an artist, in terms of focusing on how to sustain what you’re doing. Adjust your mediums. Art changes what inspires and motivates you, and it has to change in order [for one] to stay an artist. An integral part of the creative process is that it has to be made up of successes, failures, and interpretation.

*Angus Galloway is an artist, educator, and leads DRAW@MOCA, a series of monthly drawing workshops at MOCA GA. Each workshop features a guest artist, which have included Paul Rodecker, Nick Madden, and Jason R. Butcher

Click here to listen and learn more about "Within" and learn more about Angus and his work. Click here to join us for DRAW@MOCA.