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Iris Garrelfs

Iris Garrelfs is an artist working on the cusp of music, art and sociology. Her practice includes fixed media, installation, improvised performance and has been included in major institutions worldwide, for example Tate Britain, National Gallery, Barbican, Onassis Centre Athens, Visiones Sonores Mexico, Gaudeamus Amsterdam, MC Gallery New York.

Elsewhere she is the commissioning editor of the online journal Reflections on Process in Sound and the co-curator and director of Sprawl, a London based experimental music organisation. Iris has a PhD in Sound Art from University of the Arts London and is senior Lecturer in Sonic Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Working with site

Iris Garrelfs is interested in modes of listening as a way of connecting to the world, exploring interrelatedness, patterns and interaction through performances, mixed media projects, and recordings. As a result she focuses on working with site. However, her approach to site-specificity does not mean work is created for a particular locale, nor does the work represent a place, but rather, it is a response to it. She includes people in my understanding of place, people who, through their ideas or presence, participate in creating it. And so Iris’ responses are not an investigation of the geographical, historic or sociological aspects of site, but rather, it is a poetic evocation of presence on the one hand and presence within a space or situation on the other.

Improvised voice

IrisGarrelfs ©JosephKohlmaier2015smIris Garrelfs is a composer/performer intrigued by change, fascinated with voices and definitely enamoured by technology. As one of the pioneers of digitally augmented vocal performance, Iris often uses her voice as raw material, which she transmutes into machine noises, choral works or pulverised “into granules of electroacoustic babble and glitch, generating animated dialogues between innate human expressiveness and the overt artifice of digital processing” as the Wire Magzine put it.

Described as the Diamanda Galas of Glitch by BBC3, Iris’ training into creating through voice began very early on. Her parents sang in the village choir, and would often practice at home with Iris making up new melodies, 2nd and 3rd voices to whatever was being sung. She got into the attractions of technology as a teenager, stumbling across her dad’s pulp si-fi magazines. Iris is still waiting for an implant that will siphon off her sonic nerve impulses, fragments of melody, rhythm and correlation floating around in her body and brain. A vital part of her work, be it using voice or other sound material, is improvisation and the use of random elements, the ephemeral fragility and risk implied in giving up control to the moment, a sonic singularity moving through space.

Moulding complex sonic or multi-sensorial collages, her work has been compared to artists such as Yoko Ono, Henri Chopin, Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk and Arvo Part. Pieces and performances have featured in exhibitions, festivals and as part of residencies internationally, including International Computer Music Conference (NY, 2010), GSK Contemporary at the Royal Academy Of Arts (London 2008/09), Gaudeamus Live Electronics Festival, (Amsterdam 2007), and Visiones Sonoras (Mexico 2006).

Iris works solo as well as in collaboration with other artists, for example with Thomas Koner in his Futurist Manifest, Robert Lippok (To Rococo Rot),Kaffe Matthews, Scanner, Si-cut.db, the improvising group Symbiosis Orchestra, or artist collective Urbania.