1. Aos. Hello Christian SkjøDT – Welcome to ‘Architect of Sound’. Firstly i would you to tell us a brief introduction about yourself?
Christian SkJøDT: Hello and thanks for having me. I am an artist and composer born in Aalborg, Denmark but now living in Copenhagen.
I work with sound as primary materiality. My work manifests itself as live presentations (/concerts) and sound installations. I am quite interested in the material and aesthetic interrelations between sound, body and memory. I try to create spaces that forces us to relate to the current place and time. My installations usually consist of multiples that investigate principles that ‘investigate themselves’ and furthermore the space they are in. I like to see my works as witnesses to what we are unable to perceive and the boundary between our sensory apparatus and the materiality of the world.
Furthermore I do collaborations and work interdisciplinary in various the fields of composition, installation, theatre, dance and performance. I am also the founder and curator of the imprint Tonometer, objectifying exploratory sounds and music primarily in the form of vinyl records.
2. Aos. I read on your C.V that you studied at The Royal Academy of Music, Aalborg, Denmark. MA degree. What was the title of your MA degree and how essential was it in regards to your musical development?
Christian SkJøDT: Actually my MA degree is in Percussion and Music Technology. I guess especially the drums are somewhat far from what I am working with now, but I sure learned a great deal by studying and playing an instrument intensely for many, many years. However at the academy I basically spend the six years deconstructing the instrument and my playing. I ended up focusing primarily on timbre using alternate techniques, preparations and more conceptual approaches – using the drums as some sort of resonant boxes.
Of cause my all of my studies have influenced me a great deal – properly even more than I ever will realize –, however when it comes to what I am working with these days, I , in many ways, see myself as self taught.
3. Space, environment, light & sound are important elements in your workflow. Does minimalism play any particular role in your installations?
Christian SkJøDT: Christian Skjødt: It does indeed. Somehow a serial way of working, using multiples, add a certain complexity. I often find, that a very simple and stringent system can be perceived as a part of an organic entity when multiplied in the same space.
4. Aos. Sound & Vision: For you, Do you believe listening to a sound evokes a memory stronger than a photograph?
Christian SkJøDT: I do believe that sound has the possibility to bypass the intellect and ‘speak’ directly to the body, reminding us of the direct link between the body, thinking and reality. You can close your eyes, but you cannot close your ears.
5. Aos. Vibrant Disturbance 1 (2012) is a study of the relationship between light and shadow, where autonomous circuitry translates the intensity of light into sound. Tell us a little more about this fantastic Installation.
Christian SkJøDT: Thanks, I am glad you like the piece. The idea originated from the site itself where I were to exhibit a new work. It was at an art center in the countryside in the northern part of Denmark where I kept coming back to this 22-meter long passage during my research. One wall was plain white, as you would expect in a gallery space, but the other made of glass, so you could see the surrounding forrest. I noticed how the natural light in this passage were constantly changing due to the sun, wind and trees, and I wanted to take these changes and translate them directly into sound. I wanted to see with our ears.
6. Aos. What has been the advancements / differences on the further ‘Vibrant disturbance’ installations?
Christian SkJøDT: What started with one wall, later turned into two and then three, thus creating more immersive sonic environments. The circuitry has also been updated slightly several times. The largest version of Vibrant Disturbance to this date was made for and exhibited at Műcsarnok Kunsthalle Budapest in Hungary back in 2014. It was in a more than 300m2 single room with 7,8m tall walls leading up to a quite impressive ceiling of glass covering the whole space, allowing the inflow of natural light.
But the most radical change has been with the fourth version, where circuitry and loudspeakers are placed on the floor (instead of on the wall and hanging from the ceiling). Now the previous dislocated connection between the circuitry and each speaker is focused and presented right at your feet, as you are invited to explore the exhibition space.
Furthermore it might be worth to mention the work Adumbrāre, that is a sort of offspring and almost an inversion of Vibrant Disturbance, as this installation revolves around invisible shadows using infrared light in a darkened black box scenario.
7. Aos. ‘John Cage: “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” Is John Cage an inspiration to you?
Christian SkJøDT: He sure is! He helped me opening up my perception of sound and the world we live in. Surely one of the essential figures in 20th century.
8. Aos. ‘Ventilator Trio’ is a sound installation consisting of three fans and three microphones. What microphones had you used to capture this recording? It’s neat!
Christian SkJøDT: Thanks. It is a rather simple idea, that originated from some work I did on a theatre dramatization of the Danish writer Jakob Ejersbo’s so-called Africa Trilogy. I was experimenting with different small installations and conceptual ideas trying to bring the heat and dust from the writing into the black box of the theatre in the form of sound. As I recall I was using three Shure SM58’s or similar dynamic microphones. They were positioned rather close to each fan enhancing the proximity effect as the fans were moving back and forth.
9. Aos. How do you start to create an Installation? Do you think about a concept / theme and then add detail around that? Or does something develop from a subtle brainwave and all expands from so?
Christian SkJøDT: It varies a bit, however usually it all begins with the specific site of the installation. For me space is quite essential and there are so many ideas just waiting by just studying the site and surroundings thoroughly.
Therefore some of my installations are only showed once, where others have been adapted into other spaces. Sometimes as it originated but other times as new an altered versions. The Vibrant Disturbance-series is a good example of this development.
10. Aos. ‘When you perform live what instrument/s do you play & what style of music?
Christian SkJøDT: Currently I am doing one of two things in a live context; 1) spatialization of a pre-composed sound piece, which tends to be of four or more. 2) preforming with self-built electronic and/or electro-acoustic instruments, which in itself are somewhat of a composition with certain specific sonic possibilities.
Well, there is an endless row of inspiring artists out there! But just to mention a few fellow Danes working with sound, Lars Lundehave Hansen, Tobias Kirstein, Ragnhild May, and Jacob Kirkegaard are all doing interesting work. However these days I find myself, once again, listening quite intensely to György Ligeti’s Lontano.
11. Aos. ÆTER is your most recent work (2017) – Which focuses on electromagnetism, translating the phenomena into an immersive sonic environment. Another great idea which interacts with the audience also. Where did you get your inspiration from?
Christian SkJøDT: ÆTER takes it’s inspiration from the Russian scientist and musician Léon Theremin’s (1896-1993) most iconic invention – the theremin – a musical instrument which actually derived from an attempt to create a surveillance device.
The installation consists of large copper loop antennas connected to analogue electronic circuitry. These autonomous systems capture and directly transform the ever-precent electromagnetic waves in the air around us into low frequency audio material. ÆTER thus “listens” to it’s surroundings – the nature, technology and the visitor – as well as itself, as it also emits electromagnetic energy. The piece is therefore constantly changing and invites to expand not only our perception of the world and its dimensions, but also our own perception apparatus. But for me, the intention is not to create a performative instrument enabling visitors to play, but rather to create a complex interconnected network.
12. Aos. We are approaching the end of year 2017. What can we expect to see in the future from Christian SkJøDT?
Christian SkJøDT: The whole month of November I am spending at E.M.S. Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm, Sweden where I am artist-in-residency working on a new sound piece. It is a multichannel composition and will be presented in my hometown, Aalborg in the northern part of Denmark next fall.
There is several things coming up in the nearby future, among them the release of three limited edition vinyl records on my label Tonometer. It is three rather different projects to be released in December;
Illumination, which is a sort of a sonic documentation of a site specific sound installation made in the Botanical Garden in Riga, Latvia a few years back. It was created specifically for a 18th century wine cellar in the garden, and examines the translation of the outer circumstances, harvesting the energy from the sun via 100 small solarpanels on the outside, and bringing this into the cellar in the form of sound. Here the sounds are spatialised via 10 electronic circuits and accompanying speakers, where the installation investigates the special acoustics of the dome shaped wine cellar. Each system/speaker is tuned to the Concert A (440 Hz) under optimal sunlight conditions, resulting in microtonal cluster-type texture due to the weather conditions and the rotation of the planet. The release features two segments with the weather conditions being: Sunny, Partly Clouded recorded at noon and Sunny from later in the afternoon.
Dissolution & Suspension is a stereo version of a 4-channel sound piece. Is a reinterpretation of the composer Carl Nielsen’s string quartet in F-minor (opus 5) from 1892. Where we usually perceive a string quartet as one unity, this work is based on a separation and spacious demonstration which translates as a 4-channel loudspeaker setup, so we hereby find ourselves in the middle of the quartet. Advanced audio analysis of recordings of the original string quartet underlying the creation of this new work, where Nielsen’s melodic folklike tone is converted into dense (dis)harmonies and almost frozen processes and developments. This release adds a new dimension and transition as it “goes back” to the stereo format.
Lastly we have Squaring Circles which is a recording of a live performance I did at Glyptoteket’s Winter Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark back in 2015. It was based on one of the classic mathematical problems from ancient Greece; squaring the circle. The instrumentation consists of self-built square and sine wave oscillators colliding.
As for my installatory work, in February next year I have an exhibition in Quebec, Canada presenting two sound installations at the Mois Multi – Festival international d’arts multidisciplinaires et électroniques. ÆTER is one of them, and for this festival it will be installed rather different that the first showing at this years Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, which I am looking very much forward…
Thanks for your time.
~ Christian SkJøDT ~
~ Thanks ~