Planar Refrains

stephen anthony nunes


Poetic truths exist within unknowable interspaces beyond human perception. Through the reciprocal engagement of phenomenological inquiry and thorough material explorations, I aim to access these spaces as sites of greater understanding. Magnifying the fissures between the material and sensual qualities in material constructs, my practice activates specific instruments within mutable, relational systems of installation, movement, and documentation. The tools I make function within variable orientations and are implemented as both physical barriers and thresholds into alternate, virtual domains. Intersecting fragments of sound and moving image build a nexus of superimposed spatialities, while material constructions are enveloped in ephemeral intensities. Within this compounded environment, the embodied perspective of the viewer is charged as an active site through which durational, contemplative experiences can pass.

Reverberation, the ghostly refrain of a sound calling back to our ears from a distant plane, can intensify our emotional experience of place. My thesis project Planar Refrains utilizes four electro-mechanical reverb plates, analog audio filters designed to simulate expansive acoustic arenas. Historically these devices have provided emotive voicings to popular studio recordings, dislocating the performer from the commercial studio and into a simulated reverberant territory of mythic proportions. The material resonance of steel is used to filter a recorded signal, shaping the sound of a human performance into something more transformative, a sound embodying otherworldly dynamics. In subverting the designed utility of reverb plates, I am exploring their value as active surfaces extending across different spatial realities. The background of ephemeral sonic residue is collapsed into the foreground, a filter becomes sculpture, a sculpture becomes an instrument in an evolving soundscape.