When no one knows what’s going on

Follow me: Composer Elisa Faires will lead a procession through the woods, ending with a live vocal performance at a clearing known as “The Council.”

At last year’s Happening, Elisa Faires played a prank. Together with partner Chandra Shukla, she taped contact microphones to the tables in the dining hall so she could record the sounds of people while they ate dinner. As guests dined on an elaborate meal prepared by Matt Lee (Lee will be preparing dinner again this year), Faires and Shukla collected the sounds of banter, mirth and clinking tableware.

“We took the sound and played it back, recorded it, added effects, slowed it down, sped it up and made a piece of music as the dinner was happening,” says Faires. When it was played over the speakers, the music made the room 10-times louder. “People had no idea it was going on. Our installation had been so much a part of the dinner that people didn’t even realize it was happening. I think they probably weren’t even paying attention,” she says. “It’s kind of funny to have art happening that no one even knows is going on.”

Faires will be performing at Happening again this weekend, except this time no pranks will be played. Instead, Faires plans to create a sound installation called Photosynthesis: Songs of the Trees, based on her experience of singing to trees. Later in the evening she will lead a ritual-based procession through the woods, which will end with a live vocal performance at a clearing known as “The Council.”

A trained musician, Faires has studied opera and classical singing, but has strayed away from those modes in favor of experimental performance. “‘Experimental’ is such a general term,” says Faires. “I have used a lot of non-conventional ways of creating and composing music. I like to mix genres and sounds. I’m always trying to explore new things.”

— Ursula Gullow writes about art for Mountain Xpress and her blog, artseenasheville.blogspot.com.

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