Leslie Deere – Are we just talking about random, static interactions?

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If there’s something we love at This is Not Art, is the multidisciplinary art approach. So, when we heard of Music Hackspace, our reaction was: “Really? Is it a real one?
So, from inside a small but cute container facing the Regents Canal, at the Music Hackspace you can meet people sharing thoughts, knowledge, technologies,  and aesthetics on music and audio. I passed around on a Thursday evening, some weeks ago and I got introduced to the work of one of their resident artist, Leslie Deere, a sound artist working on different projects and interested in interactions between objects but also between objects and humans.
Such an amazing concept that I decided to introduce her also to you!

“The idea of capturing the gaze, for me,is part of creating something immersive. I like the idea of interactivity and engaging with senses other than just the auditory.”

leslie-deere-sounds-artist1) What’s your background? How did you understand you were interested by music?
My background in terms of instruments and notation would have to be my band at school. I played clarinet and I also dabbled with the bass guitar later on. Other than those more traditional avenues, when I was young I used to walk around with a hand held recorder, capturing snippets of my day – rewinding to a specific spot and overdubbing or manually collaging the audio. Unknowingly that was probably the beginnings of my sound art practice. A major creative influence in general for me though is definitely my dance background. I’ve found it influences decisions I make about form, line, use of space and also composition. There’s a link there between movement and sound in terms of punctuation that I find interesting.

2) I see in your works there’s not only music, but also a lot of other things, like lights, objects. Why? Or maybe is it because you see music as part of a bigger picture?
The idea of capturing the gaze, for me, is part of creating something immersive. This ties in with what I said above. I like the idea of interactivity and engaging with senses other than just the auditory. Plus I have a fascination of environments and working 3 dimensionally in a space with time based materials. Objects in a gallery space and dancers on a stage are really similar in my mind.



3) In some of your works like i.e. Bottles or “Chasing the Neon Rainbow” human interactions is key. Why is it so essential for you?
There’s something there about choice. We choose what we surround ourselves with. Each of use chooses what our environment sounds like and feels like. We create our own atmospheres within our own personal microcosms. That’s interesting to me. Some of my early work capture sound rather than emit sound out. Sound sculptures that don’t make sound. Once the piece is interacted with by way of headphones, then something else happens. The room and everything in it becomes the artwork. Environment in real time. You know that feeling when you first listen to a recording device through a decent set of headphones and everything changes. That’s the idea. A space becomes something else once its amplified, and perspective becomes magnified. If one of those works is installed in a gallery space in London, it will sound very different than in someone’s home in Sweden. That’s the idea.

Chasing the Neon Rainbow from 2014 is a continuation of that theme. In this case, I had a live microphone and a rotating Leslie speaker. The exhibition was about artist manifestos and there was a lot of political work. Its funny though, no one spoke into the mic. I said a few random things a couple of times at the opening so people knew they could, but no one stepped up. That slight intimidation or skepticism is interesting. Also there is a danger there too, the mic could start feeding back or somebody could start shouting profanity at everyone. That edge I also find interesting.

“We choose what we surround ourselves with. Art is about provoking a feeling, a reaction or a thought.”

4) How important is a technical background being a sound artist?
I think it can be of benefit, but its not vital. For me, art is about provoking a feeling, a reaction or a thought. Any of those things can be done without a heavy tech background or even an art college education for that matter. Sometimes installations can be really clever but also kind of soulless. I do have a fascination for how things work, I won’t deny that. When I think of works I experience that grab me though its usually because it caused one of those provocations I mentioned. Technology can absolutely do that. The intention behind the tech is key in terms of art. However in terms of just making, kids are coding at 9 years old now. They aren’t old enough to have a background. I love that.
Also, the great thing about maker communities and online resources is that the answer to your question is probably really close, or you can find a group of people with whom you can ask questions and share information. The tech community has the right idea. Its open, its about sharing, its about communicating. I have to say this as well as it just happened the other day. I emailed a really successful developer to ask a question, he got back to me in an hour. That would never happen in the gallery world.


“U-2665: it has the sound of a human heart with a single female vocal tone”.

5) The most number of your works are commissioned ones. Is there a particular project you prefer?
That’s a tough question. I don’t have a favorite necessarily although I do become attached to the objects. U+2665 is a permanently installed sculpture. That sequence in unicode renders the shape of a heart. The piece lights up and produces sound via motion sensor. It has the sound of a human heart with a single female vocal tone.
Very simple sounds and made from what could be considered cold materials – perspex and wire, but it can definitely elicit an emotional response. Don’t know if this is my favorite work I’ve ever made but skating along a dichotomy like that is something I really like to explore.

6) You’re resident at MusicHack Space having the chance of being in touch with other artists and people. Have you ever worked being part of a community before?
Yes I remember the old Hackspace before it moved to Hackney Road. I went there to reverse engineer a Quadrovox microcontroller once. It was the most surreal experience. Artag ended up cracking it. It was a mission. I was hooked. Hackspaces are great. I can’t say enough good about them. Its the way forward.

The MusicHackspace people are really nice and all doing interesting things. Tim made a great piece during his residency last year. Really looking forward to seeing what we achieve this time around.

“It was the most surreal experience. It was a mission. I was hooked. Hackspaces are great. I can’t say enough good about them. Its the way forward.”


Leslie Deere Official Website
Music Hackspace London

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