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Olivia Block's site-specific sound installation to be unveiled at Crisp-Ellert

February 12, 2018 3:11 PM
Artist and musician Olivia Block working on a recent project
Olivia Block recording at oyster reef at Guana Tolomato Matanzas Estuarine Research Reserve, October 2017. Photograph by Amelia Weber, Flagler College (Arts Education, ’21).

Artist and musician Olivia Block’s forthcoming exhibition, “Four Channels,” will be a collaboration between the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum at Flagler College and the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR). The exhibition will include two site-specific sound installations. The first will open at GTMNERR (also known as GTM Research Reserve) on Feb. 23, in conjunction with their State of the Reserve Symposium, and will continue through March 2. CEAM’s presentation will kick off with a walkthrough of the exhibition on March 2 at 4 p.m., followed by an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition will continue through April 14.

Four Channels was originally inspired by Block’s participation in the CEAM Artist Residency in October 2016. The artist's interest in acoustic ecology, the relationship of human beings to their environment as mediated through sound, coupled with her extensive research into Northeast Florida’s coastal environment, led her to propose a site-specific sound installation at CEAM, and an exciting partnership with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR). The sound installation will present raw materials, field recordings, scientific data, and photographs from on site within two different contexts, the museum space and science pedagogy space. The development of Four Channels stems from Block's engagement with the conservation research work done at the GTMNERR, as well as her interest in the presentation of “science education to the public – dioramas, interactive features, living specimen presentation, narrative, and artistic design.”

Using recorded material from the oyster reef and marshes at GTMNERR, gathered with the assistance of Flagler College students Cate Donohue, Mason Mushinski, and Amelia Weber, Block considers Four Channels as a “sound installation for animals.” Part of Block’s research led her to a recent study that shows how oysters sense where to take root in reef formations by “hearing” certain sounds for cues.

For one of the works in the exhibition, Architectural Array for Oysters, The Reef Ball Foundation has generously donated several "oyster balls,” ready-made objects that mimic the shape of actual oyster shell mounds. Due to the loss of the ocean’s natural systems, as well as the increased consumer demand and use, The Reef Ball Foundation strives to help rebuild natural reefs when they are unable to rebuild themselves. By pouring marine friendly concrete into an array of fiberglass molds, the Reef Ball Group can create various shapes and sizes of artificial reefs. The oyster balls utilized for the exhibition were made taking into consideration the estuarial oyster reef at GTMNERR, and will be donated to the Reserve after the exhibition.

Olivia Block is a composer and media artist based in Chicago. Her recorded compositions combine field recordings, chamber instruments and electronic textures, and others. Block creates multimedia installations and performances utilizing field recordings, found sounds from micro cassette tapes, video, and curated 35mm slides. Block’s current work reflects her interests in site-specificity, ethnographic sound, architecture, and found/archival materials from the 1950s-90s.

Block performs her own solo pieces, utilizing electronically processed amplified objects, found recordings on tapes, and various techniques inside grand pianos. Her studio based compositions are published on And/Oar, Cut, Erstwhile, Glistening Examples, NNA, and Sedimental, among other labels.

She has created site specific multi-speaker installations for The Sanitorium in Sokolowsko, Poland, The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park, Chicago, and the Olympics in Turin, Italy, among others. She has performed and premiered pieces in festivals throughout America, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan. Block has been interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition, Wire Magazine, Musicworks Magazine, Blow Up, Chicago Reader, and many additional podcasts, publications, and radio programs.

The GTM Research Reserve is one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the nation focused on researching, educating and protecting the natural biodiversity and cultural resources within the estuary. It is comprised of approximately 74,000 acres of conservation land in North Florida, between South Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Coast. The Reserve’s Environmental Education Center is located in Ponte Vedra Beach. There is also an office in the Reserve’s southern component in the Town of Marineland. For more information, call 904-823-4500 or visit gtmnerr.org.

For further information on the exhibition and related programs, please visit the website at www.flagler.edu/crispellert, or contact Julie Dickover at 904-826-8530 or crispellert@flagler.edu.  The museum’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will be closed for Flagler’s Spring Break March 26-30.

Topics: Events, General