Melissa Ryke
Braced under the heating sun

Interview with curator Anne-Laure Chamboissier on the occasion of the group exhibition Encounter in resonance.

ALC: What was your background before joining EPAS? Was sound something you practiced before? What has this postgraduate program brought to the development of your artistic work?

MR: Before EPAS I completed an honours in Fine Arts at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, in 2011 and undertook a masters in fine arts at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Tourcoing, in 2015. I have been developing a hybrid and experimental installation-based practice, where projects often arise out of exploring everyday lived experiences. I had worked with sound on a few projects before, when working with video and in collaborative works that used the voice.

Since EPAS, sound has become more of a central driving force and given me another approach to making. It gave me so many things that I'm grateful for—probably most importantly the introduction to listening as an artistic practice and ideas of embodied listening. This has really pushed my practice in a new direction.

ALC: As you know, this exhibition is focused on the question of listening. What is your personal definition of listening?

MR: This is a tricky question to answer as I think different situations call for different listening strategies, and therefore different definitions. But recently I have focused on embodied listening in my practice: listening and recording as a full-body sensorial experience.

ALC: How did you conceive of the installation you are presenting, Braced under the heating sun?

MR: I was interested in exploring the architecture of my childhood home in Far North Queensland, Australia. It's a place where the outside is always coming in, where nature (the wild exterior) pushes against and blurs into the home (the organized interior). The work is based on recordings taken during a three-week stay there from February to March in 2020, between the waning Black Summer bushfires and the cusp of the coronavirus pandemic. It came together as an audiovisual installation in five chapters focused on what was happening there at that point in time, including: the cracking of the house adjusting to the sun heating the roof, the subtly changing cicada songs from dusk to dawn, the path being taken to mow the lawn, the texture of voices (animal and human), and rain. I focused on these particular moments because they offered me a way to reflect on ideas of porosity, natural polyrhythms, rhythms and cycles of the everyday, non-hierarchical listening and recording strategies, ecology, and everyday moments that happen in contingency with the world rather than being isolated from it.

ALC: In view of the subject—externalizing and sharing a particularly intimate place with us—you could have chosen an immersive installation with sound only. How do you play with image and sound together? And avoid the pitfall of sound as a mere illustration of the image, or vice versa?

MR: I tested various possibilities, especially experimenting with the materiality of the image, which I finally decided to project on opaque curtains. The sound is unsynchronized with the image. Both run on different durational loops with the intention that the work will evolve over time. The images were also chosen to create context, and are installed in a way that invites the audience to be immersed in the work.

ALC: What kind of listening experience do you invite the audience to?

MR: An extended deep listening experience.

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