Interview with Oliver Beer
“In a way, the exciting thing for me was to try to make the most evocative painting of the lake, only using the sounds from the lake and never touching the canvas. It is kind of amazing to feel that these images in these geometries have literally come out of thin air to make the paintings.” - Oliver Beer
From the beginning, Oliver Beer has been working with sound as a “raw plastic material” and has been interested in the relationship between sound and space, especially through voice and architecture, seeing a possible instrument in any space. His study of the resonance frequency produced by different environments has given rise to series of projects such as the ‘Resonance Projects’, vocal performances using the natural harmonics of buildings and which he has been deploying repeatedly since 2007, or the ‘Resonance Paintings’, pieces that translate musical harmonies into visual language and are another example of these experiments. For these paintings, a speaker is placed below the canvas in order to make it vibrate. The sound waves then disperse dry powder pigments previously placed on them. These are then fixed by the artist in a single movement, characteristic of a specific note so that each canvas is different from the previous one, depending on the sounds chosen. Oliver Beer thus builds a vocabulary of abstract forms that gives substance to sound and develops a unique method of painting, where sound becomes the paintbrush.
Within the exhibition Un Lac Inconnu, these latest ‘Resonance Paintings’ were made according to sounds recorded at several times in Lake Lugano with submerged microphones, in order to “visualize”, one could say, the underwater landscape facing us at Villa Heleneum, mysterious and full of life.