To approach a concept, as one would a form, from differing points of view, is a kind of sculptural thinking. It is a pluralistic, non-hierarchical, flexible & multidirectional query, which navigates from one distinct vantage point to another. Circumscribing the whole embodies the richness of the sculptural experience. Time, memory, & corporeality are inherent in this complex of sensations.
My creative practice involves a synthesis of research, sculpture, & experimental music. My process is often staged in phases & I work on multiple projects simultaneously, often at a different phase within each project. Most recently I have been researching & learning to play traditional & folk musical instruments specific to my interest in the mechanics of sound propagation. From that experience I design & build experimental musical instruments as sculptures to be used in performance. With these experimental instruments I engage collaborators (writers, musicians, artists) to compose & perform with me.
My current research into the craft of musical instrument making is focused on stringed instruments using sympathetic resonance. This research is to inform the look, sound, & performative aspects of a series of experimental musical instruments/sculptures that I am building.
It is through this creative work that I am considering the origins of languages(s). My sound sculptures explore the poetic potential of the decay of language through acts of translation, challenge the authority of language for making meaning & invite participants to play within compositional strategies by giving voice to these sculptures. Through this work I am synthesizing my interests in experimental music, interactive sculpture, & feminist linguistic theory.
In order to better understand sympathetic resonance I have taken up the study of how to play the sarangi, one of the oldest & most important bowed instruments of North Indian music. The classical instrument has 35 steel sympathetic strings, which resonate with three bowed gut strings, giving it a uniquely haunting sound. The sarangi is used as an accompaniment to vocal & tabla solo recitals as well as being itself a solo instrument.
The term Sarangi is widely believed to mean “a hundred colors” indicating its adaptability to a wide range of musical styles, its flexible tunability, & its ability to produce a large palette of tonal color & emotional nuance. According to some musicians, the word Sarangi is a combination of two Persian words ‘seh’(three) & ‘rangi’ (colored). Another school of thought believes that Sarangi is Hindi for ‘of a hundred colors’ or “the voice of hundred colors”. The music produced by the sarangi is believed to resemble the human voice.
Tracey Cockrell is an interdisciplinary artist cultivating a studio practice that synthesizes sculpture, experimental music & linguistic theory. Since 1998 she has been working on a number of collaborative projects, engaging with other artists, writers & musicians to compose with invented musical instruments. Her sound art has been featured in radio broadcasts on KBOO & KPFA through alternative programs such at ‘A Different Nature’ & ‘Discreet Music’ & heard in live performances at the 14th & 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festivals in San Francisco, & the 2012 CoCA Annual in Seattle. In 2010 she mounted a collaborative exhibit, POEMOPHONE: a cacophonous collaboration & reading series at WorkSound in Portland, bringing national & international collaborators to compose & perform on her sculptural instruments. Most notably her sculptures & installations have exhibited at Boston Center for the Arts, Institute for Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine, Oakland Arts Council, the San Francisco Arts Commission, & WorkSound in Portland, Oregon. Reviews of her work can be found in Sculpture Magazine, ArtNewEngland, the Boston Sunday Globe, WGBH tv’s ‘Greater Boston Arts,’ & Maine Public Radio’s ‘Maine Things Considered.’ Artist residencies include Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Oregon College of Art, Hewnoaks, Leland Iron Works as well as a Music USA Meet the Composer Grant for her experiments in sound & a FAIR Grant for upcoming travel research for study in India specific to the making of traditional & folk musical instruments. Her work can be seen & heard at http://www.poemophone.wordpress.com & http://www.traceycockrell.com
Tracey completed her MFA with a focus in Sculpture at the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. Her education includes post-baccalaureate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture Department & a BA from the College of William & Mary. She has taught in MFA, BFA, & nonprofit institutions including Pacific Northwest College of Art, Maine College of Art, University of California at Berkeley, & The Crucible. Currently a full Professor, she has taught across all levels of graduate & undergraduate coursework, served as Vice President of Academic Affairs | Academic Dean & as Founding Chair of the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program at PNCA.