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DEREK LANG

I stumbled onto the magical, shape-shifting powers of sound about twenty-five years ago. I noticed that even a brief snippet of a particular voice or a small detail in a soundscape could transport a listener across time, place and life experience, all the while creating astonishingly vivid images in the mind’s eye.

For many years I have built my sculptures and installations around moments of listening by inviting visitors to draw near and listen to delicate layers of voice and place. A cabinet drawer might open to sounds of a thunderstorm rushing across a city street, or to a street vendor’s sing-song. A collection of leather-bound books might open to sounds of a late night summer walk along a gravel road or to the spoken memory of a childhood encounter. I have designed these sculptures and installations around small gestures performed by the visitor, simple actions leading to the discovery of miniature sound-rich moments and an experience that is aural, visual, and deeply private.

In recent years, I have been exploring sound and storytelling apart from tangible objects, making projects for radio broadcast, concert, and online. Despite the absence of physical form in these pieces, my interest as a visual artist is never far behind. I'm searching for aural images that are memorably visual: a red velvet cowboy hat flying in the wind, tiny pale feet tiptoeing through the spring rain...

These days I'm inspired by aspects of oral history, creative non-fiction, radio documentary and musique concrète. I'm curious about the ways stories give shape to lived experience, the musical textures and phrasing present in the sounds of people and places I record, and — more than anything — the unexpected flights of imagination and understanding that are possible as a listener.