Liz Helman is a London-based artist and independent curator working across different media, including sound, video, photography and painting. In her time-based media works she explores the psychological and emotional attachment to place and dwelling. Journeying between recollection and reality, she challenges format driven orthodoxies, fragmenting and layering image and sound to consider the experience of dislocation and displacement.
Kr – Could you give us an overview of your musical background and experience?
I don’t consider myself a musician, I am really a visual artist working in time-based media, which as we know, includes sound. I have always had an interest in ambient music and sound art as a form of expression, so this seems to be a natural progression. I am mostly self-taught in Logic, and a number of my friends are sound artists here in London, so when one of them taught an experimental sound art evening course a few years back, I jumped at the opportunity to attend.
Kr – You not only work in music, but also video, photography and painting; how does your visual work influence your musical compositions, or is it the other way around?
I think about this question a lot and I still don’t really have a satisfactory answer, other than to say the sonic and visuals share a process-based modus operandi that is both intuitive and sponataneous and works well with my field of engagement. I treat the mediums separately and at this stage of exploration, I am not going to stress myself about visuals with sound, and sound with visuals. It is what it is. I’ve come to sound through the backdoor, but I find making sound pieces a captivating, addictive and enriching experience. It seems to be the natural place for me to be with my practice.
Kr – What is it about the experimental aspect of art that drives you, that captivates you?
As in life, I am interested in organic situations. I don’d do well with routine,so I very much like the experimental process and journey of making work because I follow the direction of the sonic thread; meaning that I like to explore the possibilities of where a sound can take me and see what emerges from these threads.
Kr – You talk about notions of attachment to places, dwelling, dislocation and displacement, how does that relate on a compositional level? How do you go about translating these states of being into your sound works?
My work, both visual and sonic, is a response to place. I am very sensitive to environments and how their energies make me feel. As a child, I lived in many diverse countries in the world, such as South America and the Middle East, but I don’t have many memories now. I am interested in how sound [and visual] is used to reconnect to memory in less obvious ways. Even now, as an avid urban dweller/’flaneur’, I love walking through streets, experiencing different levels of sound, layers and textures. I amass field recordings until I am ready to construct a work that can convey aspects of a place, person or situation and I suppose in that respect, I am making a form of narrative. A track like glimpsed, on my album, was about a person I came to know through glimpses of their personality, similar in a way to how we get to know a place, through seeing aspects of that place. I get very excited at the thought of recording something as banal as a washing machine, and changing it into something unrecognizable and new.
Kr – Which artists would you say influence you in your work?
I am never really sure how useful it is to discuss ‘influences’, as I don’t see art in that way. For me, it is about how we as humans filter and experience situations; as artists these are the things that are translated into art.
Kr – What can we expect with this upcoming release? Can you explain what will be on the album?
I never like to give explanations or an expectation of any of my work. People take from it what they will, because in a sense, I have done my part; the rest is up to the individual as to how they respond. My album, the truth inside, has works that are dark, heavy and intense. I can say tho, that if these pieces are successful, then they will leave a residual imprint on that person and should evoke certain thoughts or feelings. I suggest listening to them in a darkened space, :)!