HF5: Geneva Skeen

Del Vaz Projects
1526 Armacost Ave., Apt. #202
Los Angeles, CA 90025

VOLUME member Geneva Skeen, whose debut album Dark Speech was released earlier this September, will perform live at the fifth event in our Haunted Formalism series.

A word of clarification – formalism refers not to a mode of producing artworks, but rather to a mode of understanding them. A formalist critic’s analysis rests on a careful description of the work at hand. Underpinning this approach is an effort to create something like an artwork’s verbal double, so precisely and patiently enunciated as to resist to the greatest degree the semantic slippages and potential for misinterpretation inherent to the written word. In seeking to apply such a method to Fein and Smith’s drawings, one eventually arrives at a level of specificity tantamount to reproducing the works directly. This self-reflexivity, which itself recalls the structural properties of language, is thus the precise sense in which these works are haunted.

The title of VOLUME member Geneva Skeen’s debut album, Dark Speech, suggests a similar relationship to language within a sound-based practice. Released earlier this September on Dragon’s Eye Recordings, Dark Speech takes as its epigram a quote from Michael Sendivogius, in which the 17th-century alchemist states that he will have “revealed everything” if he can make his meaning understood in spite of the unintelligiblity of the “words or syllables” that ostensibly compose it. Dark Speech was conceived of in October 2014, and developed over time to include recordings from several geographical locations marked by intense transformation — from a boat nearly 200 yards from an erupting volcano in the Galapagos Islands at night, a cavern of snow-covered trees in the dark of Finnish winter, the end of summer in the drought-ridden Californian desert, a power-outage during a heavy rainstorm at the San Andreas fault. The original recordings intentionally maintain a sense of subjective listening and human presence, while repeated cycles of digital effects push the primary organic materials toward literal transposition. Each work stands as a vessel containing a record of these comminglings, an enclosed textural representation of the haunting and indiscernible darkness of attempting to understand the human Self within geologic time and drama.

As such, VOLUME is delighted to present a live performance by Geneva Skeen as the fifth event in its ongoing residency at Del Vaz Projects, which will explore themes arising from its concurrent exhibition of new works by Nicole Phungrasamee Fein and Dean Smith.

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