Sean Dowgray & Maïté Agopian
Exploring the Boreal Forest through Light, Sound, and Time
Exploring the Boreal Forest through Light, Sound and Time is a performative work consisting of light projection, percussion, and pre-recorded sounds that explore the boreal forest. For Maïté, reflection, translucence, shape, and space grant an experience full of surprise and wonder. She particularly enjoys the balance between the playful visual discoveries and the rigorous attention needed in order to replicate and connect images rhythmically. For Sean, sonority, duration, timbre, and texture are primary considerations. Through his use of performed sounds and field recordings, he reimagines the relationship between music and nature.
Sean’s process has focused on two modes of interaction: field recordings compiled throughout ITOC and musical pieces that utilize unstable techniques and unconventional objects, therefore resulting in sonic material that cannot be controlled or replicated. Sounds produced by bowing metals, crackling foliage, crunching snow, and falling objects are a few examples. Maïté’s use of two projectors, as well as direct movable lights, allows her to build up her visual compositions by layering organic materials (gathered and pressed) with handmade paper cutouts, silhouettes, and various translucent materials (glass, color gels, polaroid filter). Together, Maïté and Sean have created their composition in two cycles: one of separately exploring and collecting while learning from ITOC scientists, and another of collaborative story building and content generation, influencing each other’s work through constant artistic discussions – music triggering imagery, imagery triggering music.
In this work, light and sound generate moments that Maïté and Sean both consider to be distinctly boreal. Their work features perspectives such as the materiality of the forest, scaling of time and space, seasonal features, and the growing instability of weather patterns. Through these subjects, they contemplate temporal aspects of the boreal forest and their potentiality for larger narratives.
They invited Daryl Farmer to add poetry to resonate and complement their pieces. For him, the writing process begins not on the page, but in awareness: of the sensory details that surround us, and of the way that place inhabits our lives, thoughts, ideas and memories. Language is a means of reflecting on and making tangible the senses and emotions that time in the boreal forest evokes.
Sean Dowgray (D.M.A) is a classical percussionist specializing in modern and contemporary music. As a solo artist, Dowgray explores creative methodologies that are heedful of the physical world and its phenomena. Through percussion, he considers the ways in which music gives rise to time and cultivates a creative practice that engages with the known properties and standing mysteries of mass and matter, force and motion, energy and charge. Dowgray has been a featured soloist at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Learning, the Oberlin Percussion Institute, the WasteLAnd New Music Series, and others.
Living in a boreal environment defined by wood, light and darkness has had a strong impact on Maïté Agopian’s puppetry choices. While working with a broad spectrum of puppet style and medium, she has specialized in shadow theater and wooden puppets through multiple classes and workshops in the USA and Europe. Thanks to an Individual Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation, she was able to focus this year on building her carving skills and developing new sets of work for adults and children, all inspired by the ITOC lecture series.
Daryl Farmer is the author of Bicycling beyond the Divide, a nonfiction book that chronicles a bicycle ride across the U.S. West, and Where We Land, a collection of short fiction. His recent work has appeared in Terrain.org, Ploughshares, and Natural Bridges, among other literary journals. He is an associate professor at the University of AlaskaFairbanks, where he has served as director of the MFA program in creative writing. He is also affiliated faculty for the Northern Studies program, and for six years served as faculty member in the University of Alaska Anchorage low-residency MFA program.