Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist James Allister Sprang will bring his work to Seattle on May 15 and 16, 2021, with the premiere of Aquifer of the Hum, a newly commissioned 10-minute sound meditation. The piece will be presented with screenings of his 2020 work Aquifer of the Ducts, a 40-minute soundscape of layered tape recordings and modulated synths accompanied by dance. These screenings are presentations through a collaboration between Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Northwest Film Forum, and On the Boards.
The two works, which draw from naturally occurring underground stores of fresh water, invite audiences to listen deeply, which is “a radical action that allows us to slow down, turn inward, and heal,” Sprang says. “Deep listening consciously brings awareness to the present moment while welcoming our bodies, our ancestors, our traumas, our pain, our longings, visions, and dreams.” Both pieces feature vocalist Starr Busby, and are edited by audio engineer Brendan McGeehan.
Aquifer of the Hum was commissioned as part of Lux Aeterna, a year-long project exploring the ways media production and presentation platforms shape our values and perceptions over time. Aquifer of the Ducts premiered in 2020 via Zoom as part of Philadelphia’s FringeArts Fringe Festival, which commissioned the work. The screenings at On the Boards mark the first time the piece screens for an audience in a shared physical space.
These screenings are also part of Murmurations, a Seattle-wide arts collaboration that will present a series of multidisciplinary projects beginning in May. Murmurations takes its name from the flight patterns of starling birds, whose survival depends on collective movement, and emerged in 2020 as cultural organizations worked to find new structures for engaging and presenting creative practices to the public during the pandemic. The project is spearheaded by Frye Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Northwest Film Forum, On the Boards, and Velocity Dance Center, and continues through December 2021.
Based in Philadelphia, Sprang tells stories informed by Black radical and experimental traditions. For the past 15 years, he has sustained a multidisciplinary practice with the understanding that storytelling is at the foundation of all disciplines. He has built relationships with communities and audiences through experimental theater, sound art, conceptual art, performance art, poetry and spoken word, cutting through segregated stories, timelines, archives, and imaginations. Sprang has completed several domestic and international residencies and has also presented his work at The Public Theater, Baryshnikov Art Center, Vox Populi, Abrons Arts Center, The Apollo Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, Knockdown Center, Pioneer Works, Painted Bride Art Center, and The Kitchen.