Don Simmons

Gradual Disappearance, 54”
What’s Wrong?, 2’34”

How did it all begin? When did you start using sound in your artistic practice?

I first started using sound in my art practice while making sculptures and wanting to make invisible structures that the viewer would create in their own mind. I wanted viewers of my work to be active and draw conclusions within their own background, experiences and judgments. I wanted to create space that only existed when people interacted with the piece and engaged with it. The objects were only complete when someone was interacting with it to create the imagined space that existed for them. For me it came from my own interest in the invisible, the unknown and the unexplainable.

Can you tell something about your involvement in tactical art practices?

My interest and involvement in tactical art practices comes from my desire to create positive change in the world. It comes from a need to make work that engages with a larger audience outside of the art world. These projects are not created with the intention of engaging the art world but are instead intended to educate, empower, provoke and challenge the people that come in contact with the work. My goal is to create a dialogue and engage/encourage individuals and groups to confront the issues at hand. These pieces are not always successful in achieving what they are intended to accomplish, but they are a way to communicate and challenge ideas around issues that face a particular group. Othertimes tactical works are pure magick.

Can you briefly talk about Gradual Disappearance and What’s Wrong, the pieces you will present during Helicotrema?

The sound piece, Gradual Disappearance, was composed from excerpts of a field recording documenting a performance involving the impossible act of attempting to breathe underwater. The performance referenced Chris Burden’s Velvet Water. The emotional reactions of the audience were extreme and ranged from tears to anger. The audio was then manipulated during post-production as a means to understand the emotional control and chaos of the emotions involved in the event.

What’s Wrong? was composed using samples from emotional Hollywood movies and a series of recorded long-distance telephone conversations with my parents. Sounds, transmitted through the telephone, define my relationships to both my parents and homeland. Personal conversations layered with emotional soundtracks acknowledge the presence of simulated emotions in the mediated familial relationship. This refers to the redirection of an emotion from its original place to another resulting in loss. The connections that tie us to our family and friends over long distances are evolving into dislocated feelings and emotions.