AN INTERVIEW WITH SARAH BOOTHROYD, BY BRADLEY TSALYUK:
BRADLEY TSLAYUK: How did you begin making sound art?
+ taking several years of voice and piano lessons
+ singing in choirs as a kid and in bands as a teenager
+ discovering the magic of digital audio editing through producing radio work
+ deciding one afternoon to stay in a room until I had produced my first work of "sound art"
BT: Your works have been broadcast in several countries. What does it mean for you to have your sound pieces transmitted all over the world?
SB: It's pleasant to daydream about my compositions having a life of their own, traveling to cities that I would like to visit in person some day—my little audio jet-setters touring ears in over two dozen countries. This international exposure is mostly thanks to the ease with which digital data is beamed around the planet these days, as well as the considerable time I spend finding venues for my work.
BT: The history of radio is fascinating and extremely significant in relation to everything from military technology to television, and your works are accessible online. Do you think your work will change with shifts in distribution technology?
SB: Yes, my present practice with audio work is entirely contingent upon current technology, and my work will continue to evolve (in content, format, and distribution method) as technology changes. In general, I think new tools—technological and otherwise—always suggest new forms of artwork. For example, I usually layer between 20 and 40 digital audio tracks in any given sound artwork. I think it would be near impossible—or at least result in bleeding fingertips—to create such complex multi-layered compositions through the old physical method of cutting and splicing tape. So in a sense it's thanks to multitrack digital audio editing that my style of audio work even exists. In terms of distribution technology specifically, the advent of podcasting has certainly expanded my reach beyond the conventional terrestrial radio audience, although I do enjoy working with broadcasters whenever I have the opportunity. In addition, instead of relying on a record label to reach fans, I can also distribute my work directly to listeners through Bandcamp, as well as to multiple broadcasters through PRX.
BT: When I think of the archiving of history I think of artifacts, architecture, photos, and film/video. Sound is just as equally physically present, but what for you sets it apart from these material objects?
SB: Artifacts, architecture, photography and film all have a strong visual component. Sight is one of our strongest senses—we experience the world based largely on information we receive through our eyes. So what happens when you provide sound alone to an intensely visual creature? Well, that creature invents the "missing'" images with their own imagination. In other words, the audience daydreams their way through the audio work within the theater of their own mind. And this is primarily why I'm drawn toward sound art. It demands participation on the part of the audience in a way that visual-based media typically does not. For me, sound art is 1% sound and 99% imagination.
BT: In the future where do you see your work going?
SB: My medium has always been extra large. Before sound art grabbed the reins of my artistic life, I enjoyed creating several other species of art: drawings, paintings, sculptures, costumes, films, etcetera. I tend to make art out of anything within reach. My ultimate goal is to combine my many artistic leanings into one creatively satisfying (and hopefully financially sustainable) method that makes best use of my passions, talents, skills and experience. In the meantime, while I continue to be focused primarily on sound art, I'd like to collaborate more with other artists in new contexts. Some examples: I'd like to design sound for film, I'd like to produce sound installations to accompany visual art exhibitions, and I'd like to create audio interpretations of written works. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to the seeing what's around the next corner for me.
For more information and to hear more of Sarah's work visit: http://sarahboothroyd.com/