‘When the senses merge in an overlapping lattice of input – when taste can be touched, sound can be smelt and smell can be seen – how does the world take shape in the mind, and how can what is experienced be expressed through form.’
We were introduced to Vicki Lee via a mutual colleague/friend – Adam Lindsay who is one of our Genelec advocates. The project offered us a compelling opportunity to infuse Genelec loudspeakers into a visual/sensory exhibition and thus expose their sonic capabilities and aesthetic appeal to a wide and diverse audience, somewhat removed from our traditional channels.
The Vicki Lee Gallery presented a few problems for calibration as the nature of the setup was an art installation and not your typical well treated recording studio. We used four W371/8361A stacks facing in from four corners of a large plinth that hid a 7382 Sub. The source music was layers of textural ambiance in stereo.
The gallery space is divided into two open rooms approximately 7 metres square with very high ceilings. The sound installation was housed within one of these open spaces. Two speaker stacks were positioned hard up against an exposed concrete wall while the other two were setup in free space. GLM dealt with the frequency imbalance between these two sets of speakers perfectly. The room was essentially a large echo chamber, and the only concession to the reverberation was a selection of artworks hanging on the walls. In the middle of the room was a large 3 x 2 x 1 metre wooden plinth that hid the 7382 Sub. The idea was that gallery visitors would lay down on the plinth and feel the vibrations.
We did two separate calibrations (one in stereo, the other in mono) and saved these as two GLM Groups. Our aim was to keep the signal stereo, but our concern was Phase. As it turned out due to the nature of the source music this was not a problem. The stereo Group sounded great and is what we ended up going with. Vicki wanted her guests to feel the bass as they lay on the plinth. To achieve this we tweaked the volume balance by equally reducing level compensation of the four speaker stacks by 4 db. This worked nicely giving the sub a bit more volume. Lastly, using the shelving filters in the Sound Character Profiler, we rolled off the high end a few dB to counteract the brightness of the room.
For her inaugural exhibition in her newly opened gallery space, Vicki Lee explores her unique experience of sensory stimulus through immersive works of a visual, auditory and olfactory nature. Drawing our attention to their point of confluence, The Sound of Yellow offers guests three moments of sensory activation.’
Guests arrived in groups of 6 and upon entry were ‘invited to shed their persona – uncloak from the self and dress in a custom designed white robe to create a sense of anonymity, receptivity and surrender. From there they entered a ‘Cymatic structure’ built to infuse Solfeggio frequencies (1) through the body via four white Genelec 8361A, four white W371 and a 7382 Subwoofer which was embedded beneath the plinth. Like plugging into a collective high-vibrational wave, the ever changing 600-650hz sound frequencies are pitched to elicit peak emotional states: joy, elation, euphoria, peace.’
‘The subtle, illuminating effect of yellow plays the top note to the deeper, base tones of burgundy for the large scale visual works. Paint, plaster, porcelain and natural resin are used to create texture and movement on backdrops of canvas and mirrored Perspex, existing as physical representations of the sound frequencies blooming in the space. Intentionally restrained, the minimal colour palate leaves room for the auditory and olfactory senses to find equal footing with our typically dominant visual faculty – complimenting rather than overwhelming the corresponding elements.
‘A custom scent was designed in collaboration with perfumer Clayton Ilolahia – it emerged from a package gifted to each guest. Infused with notes of citron zest, pink pepper, saffron, ambergris and golden syrup, the scent is intended to be experienced as a ephemeral but equally significant element of the sensory triad. Lee also created a bespoke tea to punctuate the scene with a warming, peaceful moment of repose – one that allowed guest to absorb and assimilate the complete experience in the most literal way possible.’
The experience transformed guests who arrived in a flurry of ubers, phone pings and other places to be, to quiet, peaceful, emotional, introspective comrades who had collectively been treated to an extraordinary exhibition which had completely and in the most gentle way taken them beyond their normal.
SCA 1. Your space here in Potts Point is amazing. Have you been here long?
VL: We just completed our Opening show, The Sound of Yellow. We had a Gallery in Surry Hills previously and needed a bigger space. Technically we’re located in Pott’s Point but it really is the “Cross” (Kings Cross). A heritage area that holds so much texture and diversity on the streets. The space itself could be considered dilapidated in parts. I love the dichotomy of shiny modern additions to a clearly beautifully, naturally and slowly changing space.
SCA 2. Is this Gallery your own dedicated place to exhibit your work or will you host other artists?
VL : So far I only have the time and energy to make and show my own work. I am open to new ideas and constant innovation and movement is essential to my life, happiness and sense of purpose. I would love to move into working with musicians and other forms of art and collaborating with other artists. Art feels like something intangible that I can never ever get enough of. Compound it on me forever!
SCA 3. Is there a specific reason you have chosen to have your own gallery rather than exhibit in 3rd party commercial galleries?
VL : Yes. One very clear reason.
I can’t forge the creative energy. I can only flow when I am not leading the band. I am following the lead to be inspired and hence express what feels like a tempo set by “something or someone else”.
I need the freedom to show work when the ideas manifest and not fit into a schedule. It’s self -indulgent. It’s expensive. It’s excellent.
SCA 4. You have a very unique style, how long have you been painting for?
VL : A couple of decades now. I would release stress when I was attending Sydney University Law school by throwing paint on canvas, walls and even on myself. I am fascinated with colour and the affect they have on our bodies. They seem to hold my attention in a way no word, book…anything really has been able to. To be given the capacity, which I believe we all have, to express this with different velocities, different forms and textures seems a kind of heaven.
SCA 5. Your new show is a “collection of canvas and mirror artworks, focusing on the ‘sound of yellow’ – Can you elaborate on this theme?
VL : The only way I can describe it in words is that when I paint, when I am in that “zone”, I go into another “space”. I do not move physically, more mentally, I am transported. In this space, the colours, different colours have different sounds and scents. I collaborated on a project for Chanel celebrating 100 years of Chanel No. 5 perfume and made an artwork based on what I smell with
this extremely complex and beautiful scent. I didn’t realise perhaps it is a strange experience to have until this project was completed and I was asked certain questions. I suppose I’d never questioned my own experience before. Scent, Sound and Colour work in a three -point unison that seems to spiral upward when in full force. Yellow is the loudest colour I hear. It is forceful, it represents the beginning of each day, a sense of hope, and therefore the end of each day, a sense of rest. It is happy and melancholy at the same time. It makes my heart ticklish.
SCA 6. You’ve chosen to link Sound and Art to create an immersive experience. Tell us more about why you’ve chosen to add audio to your work?
VL : I wanted to share my experience and what it feels like when I paint with yellow.
The way it came about was like a strange dream. Everything seemed to fall into place so perfectly. I feel very grateful for this.
SCA 7. You have chosen to partner with Genelec Speakers – why choose Genelec?
VL : Unfortunately for me, I can feel the difference now with average, good and amazing sound systems.
The Genelec speakers I have experienced and the subwoofer built into this Cymatic Structure are rich in texture. They are tuned to perfection with many sound checks to suit the space precisely. I appreciate the sound quality but I also respect all the elements the brand represents – technical precision, sustainability, supporting the arts. I’ve entered a tight knit “family” community that Genelec has created all around the world.
SCA 8. Are you happy with the sound?
VL : Very. Blown away by the power of the speakers.
The subwoofer inside the Cymatic structure is tuned to subtly flow through your body.
It is a powerful set up. My desire is to use the insanely good sound to connect with people.
Genelec 7382A Sub Woofer