Sound Artist Laetitia Sonami Performs with 'Lady's Glove' on Campus

Innovative instrument enables control of sounds, mechanical devices and lights in real-time with her hand

April 5, 2010

Composer, performer and sound installation artist Laetitia Sonami and her signature instrument, the "Lady’s Glove," which enables her to control sounds, mechanical devices and lights in real-time with her hand, will perform at the Caplan Recital Hall at the University of the Arts on Thursday, April 8 at 7 p.m. A fashion show by University Crafts and Multimedia students precedes Sonami's performance.

The "Lady's Glove," now in its fifth iteration and still challenging notions of technology and virtuosity, is fitted with a vast array of sensors that track the slightest motion of her enigmatic dance. While wearing it, Sonami can create performances where her movements can shape the music and in some instances, visual environments.

"The intention in building such a glove was to allow movement without spatial reference," Sonami said. "There is no need to position oneself in front or in the sight of another sensor, and to allow multiple, parallel controls. Through gestures, the performance aspect of computer music becomes alive, sounds are 'embodied,' creating a new, seductive approach."

Sonami, who designs and builds all of her own instruments, combines text, music and "found sound" in her compositions, which have been described as "performance novels." Utilizing a pair of rubber kitchen gloves (above), Sonami built her first "Lady's Gloves" for a 1991 performance at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria.

In addition to her performance, Sonami's installation "WIRE RAP IV: If Walls Could Talk" will be mounted in the University's Multimedia Gallery (Terra Hall, 12th floor) through May 14.

In her installation, wires are "pulled out of the walls," forming letters from an unknown language, conveying important information, declarations, edicts or love letters. The sounds coming from each panel through the spooled bobbins of wires are of voices from war-torn countries taken from YouTube, "our collective billboard," as Sonami called it. These sounds are modified as to retain just a vague imprint of their origins and can be thought of as a sonic translation of this mysterious language.

The University community is invited to interpret and create their own sonic material to be played in the installation for these silent letters. For more information or to submit materials, please contact Multimedia Assistant Professor Katherine Bennett.

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