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Robert Millis

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20130816050525-resonator

Birthplace
New York City

Birth year
1966

Lives in
Seattle

Works in
Seattle

Website

Schools
Bowdoin College, 1988, AB

Representing galleries

Tags
exhibition/performance, photography, performance, installation, mixed-media, abstract, sound art, music, composition

Statement

I have a golden childhood memory of an attic in a very old house where my family spent summers. Crawling through the dark, creaking, creepy, front part of the attic I found another room, bathed in sunlight, with a pile of forgotten books.  On top of this pile, as if the books were a throne, sat an old wind-up gramophone. This memory has informed a lot of my work:  the sense of exploration, the secrets old books and 78rpm records seem to hold in their designs, the scars of their age, their receding sounds and stories.

I am a founding member of Climax Golden Twins which began life in 1993 as a collaboration between myself and Jeffery Taylor. Under the name Climax Golden Twins or as a solo artist, I have composed soundtracks to long and short films, worked with choreographers, created audio installations, produced and designed audio projects, and released many LPs and CDs on a variety of labels. This work veers between sound art, music concrete, abstract instrumental, improv, field recording and collage. I have also made several video documentaries for the Sublime Frequencies label about music from South and South East Asia and published the book Victrola Favorites in 2008. 

Much of my compositional and recorded work revolves around the use of long, immersive, slowly evolving drones--remniscent of the ecstatic ceremonies I have heard while traveling in India and Asia. Combined with this is a love of collage and found sound and field recording. I have a particular interest in the resonance of various objects: glass, old Victrolas and Gramophones, instruments, metal filing cabinets, even the vinyl or shellac of old records mediates the sounds heard, as does the choice of microphone or recording material--all this can combine in infinitely variable ways to color sound and produce different reactions and resonances with the listener.

“…if a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside of us into the social world then new ratios among all our senses will occur like adding a new note to a melody…” (Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message)

These lines by McLuhan, not to mention Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, have guided my ever-expanding interest into the earliest recorded music (the sounds of the Gramophone era, of 78rpm records and cylinders), collections and archives of sound, and how we are only just beginning to understand the changes to our world wrought by Edison’s invention of sound recording. From Fall 2012 to Summer 2013 I will be living in India as a Fulbright Scholar, studying and making music, researching India’s early recording industry, and talking with collectors, musicians and sound artists about these changes.

 

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