How To... Haiku (live version)
sound performance, 2m56s, 2019.
How To... Haiku (studio version)
sound performance, 2m58s, 2019.
This work is a small collection of Haiku poems I wrote as instructions for everyday tasks. I thought of this idea because I wanted to write poetry, although I do not consider myself to be a poet. I decided to write a collection of instructions, inspired by the Haiku’s ability to capture simply the essence of a moment. I wrote in the traditional unrhymed three-line verse, containing five syllables in the first and third line and seven syllables in the second, totalling seventeen syllables.
I thought that there was no better way to express a moment than in the time that one takes to follow a set of instructions. Instructions can be thought of as a series of moments, composed in steps, each of these moments being equally important to the sum of the instruction that is carried out. The first part of my process was to think of the everyday activities I partake in, and then simplify those activities into a few steps. I chose a handful of routine activities that could be explained within the syllabic limits of the Haiku. My next step was to choose sounds that would complement the spoken poetry; a typewriter conveys the tactile connection of keys striking a page that would give an audible connection to an author creating a poem. I also chose to record a windchime as I found that the pitch of the chimes worked with the rhythm of the typewriter to help create a soft break in sound between each recited poem. For me, this harmony holds all the poems together. I lastly sampled the beginning eight measures of a song that had a minor chord progression to set an atmosphere of calmness and provide an easy-listening throughout the live performance.
I decided to keep elements of the music, typewriter and windchimes on the loop station so that the sound remains constant, while I adjust the levels as needed. Only the Haiku poems change as the series progresses. I hope for my audience to take away the simplicity of the poems, and the simplicity of day-to-day routines. I think it is important to appreciate the structure and limits of this poetry, even if it is reduced to simple instructions that dictate a set of moments.
You Don’t Know?
sound performance, 3m59s, 2019.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a popular video of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilling Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s reluctance to police political advertising. Zuckerberg stumbles to answer her questions concerning the Cambridge Analytica scandal and his off-the-record dinners with influential far-right figures. I decided to use this video as a foundation to create an experimental portrait of audio by reconstructing the scene through the emotional lens of Zuckerberg in the hot seat. The first notable sound I use is the voice of the Congresswoman asking Zuckerberg: “You don’t know?” The Congresswoman speaks this line when clarifying how he was both in the midst of and unaware of his company’s involvement in the largest data scandal that affected the 2016 U.S. election. Her tone echoes the atmosphere in the Congress’s House that Zuckerberg does not seem to know much and cannot answer her straightforward questions.
I sample a gasp of air to signify the lack of breathing room for Zuckerberg as he is pummeled with question after question. I interpret Zuckerberg’s mild confusion as a persistent jabbering into which the Congresswoman’s questions devolve. She drills into him specific questions repeatedly, but all Zuckerberg can hear in his nervousness is “jabber, jabber, jabber…”. To break the silence in the Congress’s House, Zuckerberg chews on his own mouth, his own words even. It’s apparent he needs some sort of audible distraction while he attempts to think on his feet for an appropriate response.
The piece moves back and forth; the jabbering of the Congresswoman’s interrogation, the reminders to Zuckerberg of the data scandal’s catastrophic effects, and an anxious Zuckerberg lost in thought, insisting that he does not know. Throughout the piece plays a recorded sound of an incessant, screeching violin, which serves to amplify the bothered and uncomfortable atmosphere felt by Zuckerberg; it raises and lowers in dynamics through the piece, intensifying the feeling of irritability. The only sound which breaks the incessant torment of the violin is the mechanical whirring of a distorted machine (sampled from an altered Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle). The mechanized sound, void of any feeling, serves as a “Diabolus ex Machina” for Zuckerberg: the tension in his interrogation will not ease and each successive question to which he cannot provide an answer pushes him further down the rabbit hole.
Sean Morello explores and conveys universal experiences using allegories as a conceptual framework. Print media, installation, mixed media, animation, video, and sound become intersectional components, rather than individual and separate entities. His choice of media is diverse as the universal experiences he chooses to convey, as the politics of identity appearing thematically in his work are also subjected to various intersections and interpretations. The individual experiences are as important as the whole. The viewer’s unique lived experience often becomes intersected into Sean’s art, telling an even more personal story to the viewer than the narrative told at face value.
Sean’s previous body of work, Relationship Chemistry Series, 2019, explores the idea that people have “good chemistry” together, while truthfully there are multiple reactions and situations that arise in relationships. Through various imageries of domestic constructs, the applied allegories serve as heuristic principles for the personal crises of anxiety, alienation, and powerlessness experienced in a relationship. Within a duality of home and hostility, vulnerabilities and shared responsibilities for the other are explored, and ultimately this equivalent exchange provides compassion, understanding, and stability. Chemical reactions within relationships explored include Single Displacement as wrongful boundary assumptions, Double Displacement as compulsive lying and retriggering of past trauma, and Decomposition/ Combustion as perpetuated stigma, further isolation, anxiety, and lack of compassion and clarity through the questioning of one’s sanity.
Sean’s philosophy to art making involves intuitive mark-making, photographic reproduction, and assemblage to convey experiences and narratives. Morello seeks to captivate the audience through any media and manner possible. This thematic philosophy also appears in DIAGNOSIS – Erin Mills Station, 2018 as a way to convey the universal experience of traumatic diagnosis to the viewer. Although not everyone may receive a medical diagnosis in life, the installation calls the viewer to participate as a subject of empathy, compassion, and solidarity for those who are afflicted. In Tarot of Art and Art History, 2018, the psychology of tarot is conveyed in a familiar setting. The tarot is obscure and esoteric knowledge, so to make sense of its mystery, the psychology of the tarot is revealed to students through the known context and environment of the University of Toronto and Sheridan College’s program: Art & Art History.
Sean Morello is a sound based artist who uses field recordings and sampled audio to create concept artwork. Within his work, he uses DAW, audio editing programs, and live soundboard mixing.