MIRRORSTATE : The Salt Flats of Northern Utah

The Salt Flats of Northern Utah

Jonathan Råberg
Claire McCahan
Ryan Packard
Erika Råberg

On view
Nov 12 – Feb 21, 2020 

Online |  > visit mirrorstate.com
Outside | window projections
Thurs – Sat 5pm – 8pm

Gallery | 35 min. screening by private reservation
Wed – Sun 1-4pm and 5-8pm

Traveling with notebooks, cameras, and recording equipment, four Nature, Environment, Science, and Technology (NeST) Studio for the Arts fellows from the University of Colorado Boulder embarked on a trip in 2019 to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Northern Utah to explore ideas of perception, material, sensation, and time.

MIRRORSTATE experiential audio/sound works have been installed in both digital and physical (gallery) spaces, immersing us in the disorienting landscape through vocal performance, new music composition, moving image, and scientific inquiry.

Learn more:

Originally conceived as a physical exhibition, MIRRORSTATE evolved into a web-based exhibition that could still be fully experienced online during the Covid-19 pandemic even if the gallery was closed. The result is an experiment in artistic adaption that embraces the expressive potential of the digital world to create an embodied experience. The video and sound works on the MIRRORSTATE website are also presented as a screening at the Arbor Institute when public health conditions allow for in-person viewing.

The experiential works were created during and following the field inquiry through materials, data, video and sound installations. The works create an impression of the disorienting landscape and its expressive potential through sight, sound, and scientific inquiry.

> read MIRRORSTATE article on NeST website

Questions that guided the investigation:

  • How do we understand the forces that caused an area the size of Lake Michigan to fill and dry up twenty-eight times in the past million years?
  • How can artistic interaction with natural materials open new avenues of scientific inquiry?
  • How does the human voice interact with its surroundings, and in what ways does the voice echo the earth?
  • Can the human voice be used to explore a geologic experience of time?
  • How can one articulate climate change sonically?
  • How might we explore the landscape visually in order to both document and transform what we are seeing?
  • What will a scientific eye reveal to an artist?
  • What role can art play in furthering  scientist’s understanding at these scales?

Jonathan Råberg is an organic geochemist and paleoclimatologist pursuing concurrent PhDs at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado, Boulder and at the University of Iceland. His current projects take him to Baffin Island, in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, and to Iceland, where he uses lake sediment cores to reconstruct Arctic climates as far back as the Penultimate Interglacial (~200,000 years ago). He relies on his training in chemistry (BA, Carleton College, 2012; MS, University of California, Berkeley, 2015) to measure biological molecules in the mud and interprets their abundances and distributions to learn about the temperatures, hydroclimate regimes, and ecological communities of the past. Jonathan’s interests extend to many other areas of science, including renewable energy technologies, energy storage, and spectroscopy, as well as to science communication, music, and the outdoors.

Mezzo soprano Claire McCahan has been praised for her clear and warm tone as well as her captivating stage presence.  Her performance areas range from opera and musical theater, to folk and jazz.  Recent opera credits include Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, the title role in Handel’s Ariodante, Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (Eklund Opera), and a staged performance of Jake Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (Opera Steamboat).  Interested in music of the Baroque era, she has performed the works of Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach regionally with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, the Boulder Bach Festival, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Rocky Mountain Chorale, St. John’s Cathedral of Denver, and Boulder’s Catabile Ensemble, and was the winner of the 2020 World of Bach Competition and the 2019 Frances MacEachron Award from the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition in New York.  An advocate of new works, she sang the role of Brittomara in the 2018 workshop production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s If I Were You (CU NOW), and has worked with CU student composers on art songs and multifaceted artistic collaborations through the Pendulum New Music Series. She was a recipient of the university’s 2017 Ogilvy Travel Fellowship, exploring Scotland to research cultural expression through folk song, and was the winner of the College of Music’s Centennial Song Contest. Additionally, she is a teaching artist for this year’s inaugural Colorado Lullaby Project, working with parents to compose lullabies for their children.  Claire received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of New Hampshire and her master’s degree and Artist Diploma in Opera Performance from the University of Colorado Boulder. > clairemccahan.com

Ryan Packard is a percussionist, composer and sound artist currently based in Stockholm, Sweden and Chicago, IL. His sound installations have been featured at the MCA Chicago, Graham Foundation, Defibrillator, Hyde Park Arts Center, Galeria Labirynt, High Concept Labs, Constellation Chicago, and Experimental Sound Studio. His compositions have been performed by Fonema Consort, Ensemble Chartreuse, Seth Parker Woods, The Morton Feldman Chamber Players, and the AndPlay Duo. As an improviser and collaborator, Ryan performs with Nelly Agassi, Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopez, Jasper Stadhouders, Nate Wooley, Oscar Jan Hoogland, ZRL (Zach Good and Lia Kohl), John McCowen, Nestle (Cyrus Pireh and Rob Lundberg), ombra di organo (Keefe Jackson and Manuel Troller), Kieran Daly, Jason Roebke, RGB (Paul Giallorenzo and Charlie Kirchen), Daniel Wyche amongst many others. He’s a member of the new music ensemble, Fonema Consort and has performed with Ensemble Dal Niente, Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, MOCREP, a.pe.ri.od.ic ensemble, Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, NYC experimental rock group Skeleton$, Slow Mass, V.V. Lightbody, Michael Albert Music Group, Nate Kinsella’s Birthmark and Architek Percussion Quartet as a founding member. Ryan has a masters of music from McGill University and bachelor of music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. > ryanpackardsounds.org

Erika Raberg is a visual artist who uses both still and moving images to explore the subtle relationships built into her surrounding environments, whether on the farm in rural Sweden which has been in her family since the 1600s or in and around Boston, Massachusetts, where mythologies surrounding the founding of the United States provide rich material. She has shared work widely in Chicago, including at the Elmhurst Art Museum, ACRE, Roman Susan, Chicago Artists Coalition, Sector 2337, High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary, Filter Photo Festival, Ballroom Projects, and the Swedish American Museum. She has also shared work in New York, Boston, Baltimore, and Tennessee, as well as internationally in Stockholm, London, and Berlin. Erika earned an MFA in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015, and is currently studying in the International Masters in Curating at Stockholm University.
> erikaraberg.com

MIRRORSTATE has been installed in three formats. The experience of the works is unique in each.

Online / Virtual – interactive website with all video and audio works along with text of conversations between the artists and scientists. Recommended for viewing on a larger screen with headphones for the full audio/visual experience.

Outside/Window + Wall Installation – graphics text from the artists and scientists are installed on the windows of the Arbor Institute and video works projected on the windows and exterior wall on select dates.

Gallery / In Person – reopening Jan 6th – large scale 35 min. projected screening of the video and sound works and rock samples from the Salt Flats in the gallery provides an immersive, contemplative experience.

This project is funded in part by the Nature, Science, Environment, and Technology (NeST) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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