Just like a blockbuster movie needs a score to bring the scenes to life, an artists’ exhibit can be brought to another level with musical recordings.
With this in mind, has hired its first composer-in-residence, St. Louis-based sound artist Eric Hall.
The 12-month residency is meant to encourage an active collaboration with Laumeier Sculpture Park’s collections and its landscape. The residency is part of Laumeier’s curatorial focus on “archaeology of place.” Throughout the year, Hall, who is a native of St. Louis, will work to develop a new series of works and projects using sound in an open-ended exploration beginning with field recordings from the park.
“Laumeier continues to diversify the different art forms supported at the Park by naming Eric Hall our first-ever Composer-in-Residence,” Marilu Knode, Laumeier’s executive director and the Aronson Endowed Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said in a statement. “As we continue to dig deeper into an ‘archaeology of place,’ which we are using to guide our curatorial practice for the next few years, Hall will create a new series of lenses to understand the urbanized natural world around us. Because so many St. Louis residents reside in a suburban environment, we felt it would be relevant to have an artist look at the aural landscape we have created for ourselves in this particular social climate.”
Hall has worked with a broad range of music, along with being active in metal and jazz bands.
“I’ve done a lot of DJing and I’ve always done a lot of sound art and installations, and that’s where my interests are strongest,” Hall said. “Honestly it’s just what I’ve always done.”
After working with various institutions throughout St. Louis, Hall crossed paths with the curator who put together the current exhibit at Laumeier. She asked Hall if he would be interested in contributing to the exhibit.
“We exchanged ideas for the exhibit and started coming up with a lot of ideas—more than one show could handle—and she decided to give me the opportunity to fulfill a lot of the ideas,” Hall said.
Even though it is tough to envision what the music will be like, which Hall said is the nature of what sound is, he did say that the ideas are far beyond his involvement and he plans on working with many artists throughout the region.
“Besides me creating pieces, I also want to bring a lot of people from the community and have them contribute as well, so as you walk through the park you get many interpretations of many artists,” Hall said. “We’ve also got ideas involving performances and films and more installations and exhibits. A lot of the pieces that we are looking forward to are interactive and using many different artists. I like what I do, but there are certainly a lot of other voices and contributions that I value.”
One of the ideas discussed is to make a sort of soundtrack for the entire park to where visitors can go online and download a selection of tracks according to the exhibits they plan to see. Then, as they are traveling through the exhibits, they can link the appropriate piece of sculpture to their IPod or IPhone and listen to their chosen music.
“This puts each person in control—they can navigate the sounds with the park,” Hall said.
Hall also plans to have an art camp over the summer for children, and more children or family-based interactive art projects. He creates about three-four dozen performances or exhibits a year normally, (he’s worked with St. Louis institutions including the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, White Flag Projects, Washington University, Forest Park Community College and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra) so now he said he’s happy to have a dedicated place to point his ideas.
“It won’t really change my workload, just change the venue and make it a little more consistent,” he said. “We’ve been off to a good start. The exhibit that is up right now is amazing. There is a lot of incredible work in there.”