Sounds Like Art
Interview by Shena Chen
Photographs courtesy of Zulkifle Mahmod & John P. Hastings
Zulkifle Mahmod (Singapore)
Please introduce yourself to our NYC readers.
I am an artist trained as a sculptor. I received my education at LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore in 1997 and I have a reputation for integrating 3-D forms with ‘sound constructions’ and ‘sound-scapes’, often crossing genres and collaborating with other artists.
Why sound art?
A Dutch artist first introduced me to sound art in 2001, in Norway. I was very fascinated by sound because there are so many forms and layers to explore—from location-sound recordings and sound installation to interactive sound installation, live sound performance and so on.
Tell us a little about your process—how do you start on a piece of work, develop it and how do you decide if/when it is done?
I always start by penning down my ideas in a sketchbook, followed by small, preliminary drawings on paper. I will then start constructing the hardware and testing it.
After that comes sourcing for the materials used for the installation. It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I know my work is done and the satisfaction that follows it.
What is the biggest internal challenge you face during the development process of an art piece?
Picking out the ideas that would work or have a better impact on the art piece has always been a great challenge for me.
John P. Hastings (New York City)
Please introduce yourself to our Singapore readers. Who is John P. Hastings?
A seeker—someone who continuously looks out for something new to investigate, synthesize and share.
Why sound as a medium for your art?
Sound invades and soothes, conjures and consumes. Sound is often ignored and constantly integrated into our environments. I personally feel that sound makes a supple and slippery medium for an artist, and one that continues to fascinate and open up new vistas.
Tell us a little about your process; how do you start on a piece of work, develop it and how do you decide if/when it is done?
A piece is never really done, as far as I am concerned. The performance or installation of a piece of work is really just the first iteration. I do not believe in perfection; I’d rather have an open-ended conception of the work to facilitate outside forces to have a hand in the art. The start of the work and development can happen over an extended period, as ideas tend to gestate for a long time in my mind and in my notebooks. Other times, an idea will just come to me and the work will be finished rather quickly. I prefer to have one large project in the works, with other smaller pieces coming and going simultaneously.
Read more in The U Press N˚1 (New York edition).