Joanna Bailie’s Artificial Environments Nos. 1-5 are a composed museum walk that finds its artistic origin in our sounding environment. In this sense, the piece sees itself as a contextualization cycle of musical processes through explanation. Inherent in this is a poetry that poses a chicken-and-egg question: What came first, magical sounding soundscapes or the composition? For Bailie, text and sound of the environment become a metaphor for principles of composition.
Composition itself is the act of selecting and shaping recordings, finding a dramaturgy within those recordings, and finding a way for the live ensemble to connect with the tape part.
Artificial Environments 1-5 outline a fictional world in which time can be stopped aperiodically. Sounds and environmental noises are frozen in place, behaving like chord progressions in a soundscape. A tapestry of discontinuity is created. To understand this world, one must engage with a sound world in which processing and attempts at understanding become second nature. If you just stay in Bailie’s Artificial Environments long enough, processing and attempts at understanding become so natural that you don’t notice when they are happening: “Processing the process becomes second nature.”
What interests me most about technology is the ability to record things and produce photographs, films, and sound recordings. For that reason, I’m particularly fascinated by the nineteenth century and the early history of these kinds of technologies.
British composer Joanna Bailie was born in London in 1973 and now lives in Berlin. She studied composition with Richard Barrett and electronic music at the Institute of Sonology, Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. In 1999, she received a scholarship to study at Columbia University. In 2018, she completed her PhD at the University of London.