My Audio World... by Sadia Sadia
Sadia Sadia PhD FRSA is an installation artist working across a wide variety of media, including sound, still and moving images. She is also an award-winning record producer and writer. Sadia began her career by becoming among the first women in the world to be signed to a major label as a record producer. Sadia’s installation works include multiple elements of imagery and sound to create immersive environments, frequently incorporating manipulation or distortion of time. Her work has been screened and exhibited internationally and forms part of internationally significant permanent collections.
For more information please see: https://artschimera.com
Sadia, S 2014, Cataract Gorge. Production still.
Tasmania is one of my favourite places in the world. I love the short hop that takes me from Melbourne across the Bass Straits, and the clean air that goes straight to your head, like you’re breathing champagne.
I started my professional life in audio as a record producer. Back in the late 1970’s I was among the first women to be signed to a major label as a record producer (EMI Canada). I produced and co-wrote a handful of gold and platinum albums, but truth be told I had a pretty lousy time in control rooms. The seventies and eighties were often a harsh time to be woman in the music business, let alone the only woman in the control room. I wound up delivering a keynote address at the 20th Anniversary AES Convention at the Jacob Javits Centre in New York in 1997, on the subject of ‘Gender Issues in Audio Engineering and Music Production’, as well as speaking at schools and universities. There are now some wonderful women who are pioneers for change (like Dr Leah Kardos, Project Leader of the Visconti Studio at Kingston University) and so as ever I travel hopeful for the future.
But my fascination has always been with the moving image. Back in the day AVID editing had an entry point of around a hundred thousand pounds plus, which in the eighties and nineties was even more money than it is today (and it’s still a lot). Everything changed with Apple’s bump in processing power in 2003, which at around one-tenth of the cost of AVID allowed me an entry into editing through Final Cut Pro. I bought into the Apple platform with the original version of Final Cut Pro and never looked back.
My work as an installation and experiential artist now takes me around the world. Across late 2013 into January 2014 I was artist-in-residence at Cataract Gorge in the City of Launceston, Tasmania. The artist’s residency in Launceston is based at King’s Bridge Cottage, a late nineteenth century gatekeeper’s cottage originally built into the two-hundred-million-year-old dolerite cliffs located alongside the South Esk River. The gorge is thought to have been created by the breakup of the original Gondwana super continent, the single land mass from which sprang the continents as we know them today.
Sadia, S 2014 All Time and Space Fold Into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge). Moving images, audio soundfield. Gallery plan with working notes for audio soundfield and positioning of speakers.
My brief was to create a piece of work that reflected my reaction to this natural world, which would then be displayed in a massive QVMAG Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery exhibition hall at Inveresk.
Sadia, S 2014, QVMAG Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Inveresk, Tasmania. Installation production still.
For weeks I walked the Gorge with my camera, capturing images of the water and waiting for the land to ‘speak’ to me. I eventually perched on a bridge where I could get a clear shot of the rushing water. I then slowed down the footage and colour balanced it to resemble deep space, while the motion remained that of the water. The completed work, ‘All Time and Space Folds Into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge)’ comprises a three channel filmed installation with an accompanying eight channel soundfield. It is monumental in scale with the three channels set across a single nine foot by forty eight foot screen.
Sadia, S 2014, QVMAG Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Inveresk, Tasmania. Installation workshop, production still.
I wanted to produce a sonic design and atmosphere for the work that captured Cataract Gorge’s sense of timelessness, constructed of audio captured in the Gorge. During the audio post-production, an impulse from the reverberant exhibition hall was modelled with convolution processing to imitate the sonic character of the space, in order to prepare the feeds to best effect.
Sadia, S 2014 All Time and Space Fold Into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge). Moving images, audio soundfield. Installation still with audience.
This experiential, immersive work plays with time along along several axes: horizontally along the depth of the gallery, where the soundfield is modelled to roll back time as one progresses deeper into the gallery, and at right angles to that, through the picture plane where the moving image is processed in ultra-slow motion.
Sadia, S 2014 All Time and Space Fold Into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge). Moving images, audio soundfield. Installation still.
The manipulation of time is managed through a handful of strategies: first, through the slowing down of the motion of the water, and secondly, through the construction of a soundfield which begins with the ‘modern’ world at the near end of the exhibition space (that is, recordings of cars, people, traffic, transit from near the bridge) through the natural world and back through the ‘dark ages’ into the prehistory channel, represented by the detuning and manipulation of sounds captured in the Gorge.
Sadia, S 2014 All Time and Space Fold Into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge). Three channel video installation with eight channel soundfield.
The channels were organised as stereo pairs, the first set representing modern day, and progressing ‘back in time’ as the viewer moves into the gallery. I captured audio from near King’s Bridge, families laughing and talking, cars and bikes passing, and this became the ‘modern day’ stereo pair.
The second pair comprised audio captured deeper within the Gorge, natural sounds of wind, water, air, animals, and ambience.
The third pair represented moving ever further back in time, detuning some of these sounds and adding low bass rumble.
The fourth pair, representing that space beyond time, deep time, featured the Gorge’s peacock’s cries detuned to sound like primordial beasts alongside a sub rumble.
You can see and hear the work and story behind it, in this short made for the museum: ‘The Making of 'All Time and Space Fold into the Infinite Present (Cataract Gorge)'
My Favourite Flare Product: I have more than one favourite Flare product, but I have two constant companions: Flares Jet earphones for flying, because they’re crisp and balanced and still decisive enough to make all external noise irrelevant; and my Flare Pros, because Arthur C Clarke had it right when he said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.
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