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Langley, Somaya

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Artist, Composer, Multimedia Artist, Installation Artist and Improviser
Photograph by Lisa Stefanoff

URL: The home page for this entity is located at http://www.criticalsenses.com
Somaya Langley (b. 1976, Canberra, Australia) is a composer, sound and multimedia artist. She graduated from the Canberra School of Music in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music majoring composition. Her work has been presented in contemporary music and arts festivals nationally, including LOUD, Noise, Electrofringe, FOCA, Make It Now, the National Festival of Women's Music, the Totally Huge New Music Festival and the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Langley’s pieces have also been aired on ABC Radio’s New Music Australia program. She is the recipient of an artsACT and an Australia Council grant for the production and presentation of two sound installations to be held in 2004.

In 2002, Langley became involved in a collaborative project, HyperSense, developing and performing with sensor-based equipment worn on the body. Since 1997 she has presented a weekly electronic music radio show, Subsequence, on Canberra's 2XX FM. She currently works at the National Library of Australia – developing the MusicAustralia project and online delivery interfaces for the National Library's Digital Collections.

Description of Practice

Somaya Langley creates sound installations for a range of spaces including galleries and online environments. In both physical and virtual sound installation spaces Langley constructs new sound worlds for audience exploration. The sonic atmosphere is often derived from real-world sounds, processed into new forms. More recent works combine original source samples and processed sounds, bringing together everyday city surroundings and the composed environment.

The aural environments Langley creates, entice the audience member to “really listen”, rather than overwhelm them with the sound. Several installations incorporate barely audible ethereal-like sounds. Alongside encouraging the audience to actively engage in the listening process, Langley’s interest lies in developing sound installations that physically affect the space. Rumbling sounds and low pulsing tones subtly vibrate the space allowing the audience to feel as well as listen to the sonic atmosphere.

The resultant installations are creeping soundscapes that on the macro-level are seemingly content in their semi-static state. However, on the micro-level provide infinite complexities within the timbre and artefacts of the sound. Patterns and repetition envelope the audience and often suggest to the listener that the sound is stationary. Only by listening to the work for an extended period of time does the slow sonic evolution become apparent. Utilising Max/MSP software, Langley’s works are constructed as looping sound environments or real-time sound transformations that continue over an installation’s duration.

Working in the online and CD-ROM environment, Langley constructs both the visual and aural components, providing an all encompassing experience. Langley’s online and CD-ROM pieces provide a substantial degree of interactivity available to the audience member, allowing the work to come alive in their hands. Opportunity to interact with the work in a meaningful way allows the audience to overcome the sometimes limiting computer interface, and successfully engage in the work. These pieces are usually temporary and are only available to the public for a set timeframe.

Langley’s stereo works developed for headphone spaces emphasise techniques such as panning. These lure the listener into visualising an expansive imaginary space, beyond that implied by the headphone medium. Using uncomplicated tools and techniques to construct her soundscapes, Langley believes that often simple solutions can provide the most substantial and engaging results.

In physical installation spaces, Langley often collaborates with visual artists. Providing a visual environment – whether video or physical objects – encourages audiences to move around, letting them experience both the visual and aural material from different points within the space. Works developed for gallery spaces incorporate sound recordings taken from the actual space. This technique assists in integrating the sound installation with the already present sounds of the gallery and its surrounding environment.

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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 3 December 2003
Modified: 14 February 2006

Published by The University of Melbourne
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: i.mott@unimelb.edu.au
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 18 January 2007

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