Sound of Cells

Choreography Dominic Walsh
Music Andrew Pelling & Christopher Bourque

Costume Design Dominic Walsh

Choreographer’s Notes I choreographed Sound of Cells in response to the exhibition Inner Space, Global Matter: Recording from the Structures Within featuring works by Geraldine Ondrizek from 2008 through 2012: The Sounds Of Cells Dividing, Cellular and Chromosome Painting. Ms. Ondrizek is a research-based artist and professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Her work ignites interest and inquiry about the influence of cancer and other diseases on both individuals and entire families. Through her art, she engages diverse artistic media to portray, explore and enhance images of the genetic testing of human and animal cellular tissue as reproduced by geneticists and biologists.

One aspect of the exhibit are sounds of human cells -some healthy, some dying- recorded through their vibrations.  This spoke to me as an example of resonance and our innate knowledge and psychological understanding of clean and healthy sound, and how we react/feel about it and it’s absence.

In explanation of her dynamic work, Ms. Ondrizek states, “The sound one is hearing and feeling are five tracks of healthy to damaged cells dividing and dying, layered with my own recording of a Monastery Cell, and family conversations. I was permitted the copyright for these five recordings by Andrew Pelling. (Andrew E. Pelling, Assistant Professor of Biophysics, Department of Physics, University of Ottawa) for his sound recording of the cells as used in Dark Side of the Cell by Anne Niemetz and Andrew Pelling in 2004. The sound recordings used for this work range from rhythmic to strained. The pitch of each is so distinct that even the untrained ear can sense the sound of heath and distress as one moves through and touches the thin handmade paper walls.”

To create the soundscape, I worked with Sound Designer, Christopher Bourque, to combine the human cell sounds with a recording I made in Naples, Italy of an organ tuning session in a small church, and some text from Gerri’s panel discussion in Nov. 2012 held at University of Houston, Clear Lake.  This soundscape, combined with exploration of the exhibit in the ‘cell’ of the UHCL Gallery is what informed the choreographic choices.

Length:  12 minutes

Click here if you would like more information about staging works by Dominic Walsh.

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