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Soundfigures: Films by Aura Satz

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Programmed by Michèle Smith

(Near) extinct technologies make sound visible in this program of shorts that delve into ideas of knowledge, memory, and communication. On a Chladni Plate, a device that marked the birth of acoustics, grains of sand, moving like Busby Berkeley dancers, form intricate patterns in response to changing sound frequencies, their shapes recalling the utopian quest for a “pure,” onomatopoeic alphabet. Wax cylinder recordings combine with modern scientific instruments to animate a text by Rainer Maria Rilke on the possibility of hearing the dead by playing their skulls with a gramophone needle. A histrionic voice-over, translated into a wave of small flames on a Ruben’s Tube, provokes unexpected associations, from the biblical burning bush to various acts of ventriloquism in pop culture. Hand-drawn compositions by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram are run through her radical invention, the Oramics Machine. Kaleidoscopic effects in the lamphouse of a 35mm-film printer honour Natalie Kalmus, colour consultant on masterpieces of the Technicolor era. The eyes of the George Eastman family and early Hollywood stars reveal chromatic distortions in some early colour film tests. And in a dramatic finale, Aura Satz and experimental filmmaker Lis Rhodes encode their voices as abstract light patterns on 16mm mono and 35mm stereo filmstrips in a collaborative exploration of sound-image synchronicity.

- Onomatopoeic Alphabet (Great Britain, 2010, DCP, 5:35 mins.)
- Sound Seam (Great Britain, 2010, DCP, 14:47 mins.)
- Vocal Flame (Great Britain, 2012, DCP, 9:29 mins)
- Oramics: Atlantis Anew (Great Britain, 2011, DCP, 7:27 mins.)
- Doorway for Natalie Kalmus (Great Britain, 2013, DCP, 8:45 mins)
- Chromatic Aberration (Great Britain, 2014, DCP, 9 mins)
- In and Out of Synch (Great Britain, 2012, 16mm, 20 mins.)

Aura Satz is an artist based in London whose practice encompasses film, sound, performance and sculpture. Recent solo exhibitions include Colour Opponent Process at Paradise Row, Impulsive Synchronisation at the Hayward Gallery, London (both 2013), Chromatic Aberration, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle (2014), and Eyelids Leaking Light, at George Eastman House, New York (2015). This past year her work appeared in the group exhibitions Mirror City: London Artists on Fiction and Reality, Hayward Gallery, and They Used to Call it the Moon, Baltic, Newcastle. She was nominated for the Film London Jarman Award in 2012. Her projects can be seen online at


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