Elevator Music 41: Laura Ortman—Dust Dives Alive presents the artist’s eponymous sound work, created in July 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new visual installation in the Tang Teaching Museum’s elevator. In the sound work, originally commissioned by ISSUE Project Room as part of the Isolated Field Recording Series, Ortman layers and collages her home-recorded experimental music—most prominently featuring the violin—with the buzzing of neighbors, subways, streets, rain, birds, and other sounds of city home life. The sounds fall in and out of harmony, blending and clashing on a journey variously soothing, challenging, melancholic, and hopeful. As we emerge into post-pandemic excitement and hustle, the installation encourages us to slow down, remember, and reflect, to continue to see and hear all that surrounds us—especially the constant hums, whether from neighbors or nature, that create an aural backdrop for our lives. By bringing those noise bleeds to the forefront, Dust Dives Alive broadens the instrumental possibilities of experimental music as it considers the role of sound as a means for human connection.
Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) is a composer, musician, artist, and collaborator working across recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. She is versed in violin, Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, and keyboards; often sings through a megaphone; and is a longtime maker of field recordings. She has received numerous awards and has performed across the United States, Canada, and Europe, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Toronto Biennial, Ontario; the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Ortman has lived and worked in Brooklyn, New York, for more than twenty years.