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Richard Chartier

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notes / statement:

A significant element of my work is the use of wholly digitally rendered sounds that necessitate a focused engagement on the part of the auditor. Soft and hushed—almost imperceptible—fragments, high frequencies, bursts, static and quiet, low, shifting tones create a complex textural field. Idealized as an asymptotic process of composition that approaches an unattainable paradigm of formalism, the evidence left of the work's creation speaks to an incremental and meticulous process of reduction. Sonic moments placed under a microscope for consideration and eventual emaciation; a cutting away or a deepening within and into an isolated microsecond. Compositional focus often occurs in the space between the sounds, both real and perceived.

My work explores an implied silence that is not silent. The near-inaudible character of the sounds used belie the activity and energy of the composition itself. Generating a rich threshold between silence and sound that is meticulously structured, and in some cases cyclical, these pieces are often best experienced at low volumes or on headphones. My work tends to be sparse (or perceived as such) so that I may utilize this aspect to present compositional ideas and structures without extraneous elements impairing the conceptual clarity of each piece. With this I want to engage via listening as opposed to musicality.

The sounds are treated with a sculptural integrity. Each crackle, hiss, and tone is distinct, an instantiation of an auricular physicality that nonetheless proximally and often approaches silence. Nearly transparent, each discrete audio instance in my work depends upon a narrowed engagement by the listener in contradistinction to the standard experiences of every day hearing.

The narrative present in these patterns develops through a work's particular existence in time and the sonic levels and plateaus that serve as events within that temporal space. In this sense, a faint rhythm is created and can provide a degree of structuring continuity to the piece, but as the work develops that rhythm is progressively fragmented and dematerialized into spectral remnants of its original. Knowable cycles can slowly develop, but within any discernment of pattern comes the particular auditory variance of the listener's perception. In experiencing a stretched out and slowed down serial composition requiring attentive focus, the expected arrival of the next sound makes even the faintest change in rhythm, or introduction of alternate events, as significant as the spaces between the physical presences of sounds. My work can at times develop towards a more audible and less "silent" shift in aesthetic space. The continued significance of reduction and structure within my artistic process still links these compositions.

As an installation, my work most often is re-contextualized into site-specific, controlled environments. The listener/ viewer becomes imbued in the physicality of the sound and its perception in relationship to his/her placement within the space. These installations aim to redirect the listener/viewer's concentration and bring his/her attention to selective aspects of experiencing sound. I find that an empty gallery has the potential to mold an effective listening environment, or to create through the manipulation of sound a space of novel physical experience. This effect works upon those entering briefly or for extended periods of time, as the sound field shifts across the duration of the sound piece within the space. In a similar sense, the use of headphones in an installation provides the means to navigate the auditor into an even deeper area of attention, concentration, and focus. In line with my interests in expressions of form, i often remove visual cues from these spaces and approach as closely as possible a non-referential state within the work itself. An attempt at pure sound rather than visual art that makes sound, or the generation and experience of sound that does not depend upon a visual reference. An "object" such as a speaker or cable is treated as such, a means but not an end.
My work explores the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception and the act of listening itself.