There’s a ghost in the speakers. A spectre. It lurks and shadows and morphs and emanates. Sound transmissions are interrupted, inhabited, recast. A new entity is born. Melbourne artist Dylan Martorell’s new show at Utopian Slumps reframes music not as a logical, final outcome, but as a permeable, ephemeral material – reactive to its context, its treatment and its 'housing'.
“I love that idea of the Lee Perry studio,” he offers. “This idea that he created this entity to make music within. It wasn’t just a bunch of machines; it actually produced an incredible kind of spirit.”
Duppy Housing takes this notion to new, strictly DIY lengths. The rambling, shrine-like installation sees Martorell “rehouse” countless old speakers in various, hollowed found materials and refuse. Fruit boxes, steel barrels, tin cans, wicker baskets and even deflated soccer balls are transformed into makeshift speaker housings. DIY electronics powered by scooter batteries generate and interrupt sound signals; improvised structures become musical tools.
“Because the speakers are housed in different objects, you can create these completely unique sounds,” says Martorell, who will collaborate with audience members and other artists to make recordings throughout the course of the exhibition. “Every kind of object resonates differently.”
Conceived after a residency in Jogjakarta, Indonesia – where Martorell fashioned a bicycle-based sound system – the show also engages with notions of portability.
“Another reason for rehousing is for mobility,” he offers. “I love that idea that, like we did in Indonesia, you can create a sound system and all this stuff that you could strap to a bike.” Martorell, however, holds relatively humble ambitions for the show.
“When it comes down to it, it’s all about the music,” he says. “If I’m happy with the music and the collaborations that I’ve done, then it’s all worthwhile. It’s really an excuse to just make some instruments and do some recordings with people.” A chuckle. “I don’t get out of the house much.”
Duppy Housing opens October 29 and runs until November 20 at Utopian Slumps.