Halla Steinunn StefansdottirDoctoral Student
Research areas and keywords
- agency gender ecology intradisciplinary
As a piece of art-led research, my doctoral project, currently titled HÉR! An Exploration of Artistic Agency, is a study of my practice as performer and curator and a site where I can experiment with and explore these different roles. Already during the first phase, my artistic practice has extended to composition, which reflects the times we live in, where the divide between creator (composer) and performer is being questioned in theoretical writings and in practice.
The word HÉR means ‘here’ in Icelandic. Its exploration reverberates through my artistic output, be it through counter-action to the ‘here’ or a celebration of embeddedness. The ambiguity implied is that work in the arts is a process and the concept of ‘here’ is therefore ever changing. The title HÉR can also be read as the homonym HER, which further refers to the singular, a perspective intrinsic to art and artistic research.
The design of my research is a series of case studies, which can be likened to micro-labs. My aim, to explore collaborative modes of working in order to challenge my practice as a performer and curator has led to the following research questions:
How can an ecological perspective provide a different understanding of the agency of a performer?
How can a perspective from gender studies provide a different understanding of contemporary musical practice?
In the initial 25% of research, my work has encompassed the following artistic output:
Raindamage. A recording project set to explore some of the creative possibilities and processes in the making of an album. The studio and its recording technologies have long served as a creative tool for producers and composers. Its importance within popular music is undeniable and I have become increasingly aware of how recording technology and the possibilities of signal processing have allowed a particular space for errors in performance to play a distinct role in contemporary aesthetics. Despite the obvious disembodiment of the final studio product, the performer is present at various stages of production. The wish to explore this side of my work led me to formulate a recording project which paired myself and the ensemble Nordic Affect with producer/composer Valgeir Sigurðsson and composers Úlfur Hansson and Hlynur A. Vilmarsson. The album will be released on the Sono Luminus label in March 2017.
S C A P E. A piece of video art with live performance of music with pre-recorded sounds created by Sigurður Guðjónsson (video/pre-recorded sounds/concept), Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir (concept/work score) and ensemble Nordic Affect (performers). I instigated S C A P E as a collaborative exploration between the sonic and visual realm. A work where the starting point was a dialogue between a performer/artistic director and visual artist. Furthermore I wanted S C A P E to be a tool of change when it came to Nordic Affect’s work, an exploration of the members’ poietic abilities.
H e (a) r. A quadrophonic soundscape connected to ecology, acoustics and embodiment; drawing on encounters and what happens in the connection. A fluctuation between hear-here-hér-her. H e (a) r turns the spotlight toward the multi modal knowledge production of music and its links to the socio political sphere. The work also affirms that there is no ‘neutral stand point’ in this world (Denzin et al. 2006).
V A R P, a 16-channel audio and video installation, was developed at Lund University’s Inter Arts Center and premiered in November 2016. The installation is partially co-authored with producer and composer Valgeir Sigurðsson, which further underlines the hybridity that is taking place today. V A R P links directly to the collaborative project Raindamage (see above).
Future analysis of this qualitative research is foreseen to lead to questions related to the work concept, authorship and the paradigmatic shifts, which we can see in the form and function of the musical work in contemporary culture. Here, intradisciplinarity is the keyword.
"Decades ago the Sugarcubes proved to the rest of the world that Icelandic rock was its own original creation - now Nordic Affect promises to do the same for the country's new- music community." - The Chicago Reader
Baroque violinist Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir has been the artistic director of Nordic Affect since its inception in 2005. Believing that the exciting things happen "in the connection" Halla Steinunn’s work with the ensemble has been a tour de force when it comes to collaborative relationships with composers, visual artists, and producers. Her latest album with Nordic Affect, Clockworking (2015) on the Sono Luminus label was featured in various best-of-the-year lists, including Night After Night, the Chicago Reader and The New Yorker. Halla Steinunn is a PhD candidate in artistic research at Lund University, in a time where the divide between creator and performer is being questioned in theoretical writings and in practice.
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