Between science and mythology: An interview with Amosphère
Amosphère is a Paris-based composer and multidisciplinary visual artist. Using diverse media, a minimalist vocabulary and fictional concrete poetry, her work questions time, space, cosmology, human perception and psycho-physical effects through sonic meditations. Classically trained in piano, her practice has been transformed into contemporary process: by exploring the balance between analogue synthesisers and contemporary technologies, the music scores — collected data or visual objects, are translated into sounds, installations and performances that exist both in the physical world and in virtual reality. Her upcoming album is being released via 33-33.
How have you been recently – having had to navigate the situation brought about by the pandemic in the last year?
Honestly, up and down, like everyone else in the past year, but I’ve been trying to stay grateful for what I have, complain as little as possible, and help whoever needs me whenever possible. Finally, going at a slow pace and experiencing a peaceful time is so precious and good for our planet. I guess it is a chance to explore one’s self-awareness, a chance to discover new subjects and new connections in life.
I saw you had a residency in the Cistercian nunnery at Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône in France recently, where you ran guided meditation workshops. Can you talk about this experience?
Maubuisson Abbey is a very ancient Cistercian nunnery which has existed for several hundred years and has been used as a military hospital, a stone quarry and now a contemporary arts centre. The workshops were limited to a few individuals due to the current situation, but the spiritual connections were heartfelt and profound. As a result of the last couple of months’ research, I built a portable meditation space at my current group exhibition and will hopefully be able to do more sound meditations for people soon.
Your compositions are meditative and soothing, evoking a magical place beyond our day-to-day lives and duties. Can you talk about the sonic states you aim to evoke, and the trajectory of your compositions, as well as the importance of meditation through sound as such?
There is a composition of mine called ‘Anti-insomnia’, for example. Achieving a state of sleepiness or an anti-anxiety effect was not my first intention while composing this piece, which uses repetition. As I found people kept falling asleep while listening to the performance, I decided to name the piece after this. It mostly came about by chance, or probably cosmic communication. I have recently started some new research on Shangqing meditations, an ancient method based on Taoism, which suggests orienting consciousness inwardly and freeing the mind from negativity.
Can you talk about some of the themes that you’re working on in your compositions?
Ever since I was very little, I have had a great fascination with and faith in the cosmos, and I try to find a balance between ancient mythology and contemporary science. Since last year, I have been exploring the birth charts of friends and unknown people. Sometimes you have the impression that you know a lot of secrets in someone’s life only by looking at their planets at their birth time. So, it has been a lot of fun to transform these charts into musical scores. I have even been hiding my identity on dating apps to read strangers’ birth charts (laugh) and I think this kind of connection is so important under the circumstances.
You combine analogue synthesisers with contemporary technologies, translating data or visual objects into sounds, installations and performances that exist both in a physical space and in virtual reality. Could you talk about your approach?
Just like the balance between ancient mythology and contemporary science that I have been searching for, it is important for me to aim for a timeless process by combining recent technologies and analogic resources. I’m interested in the relationship between time and space and how we are able to relate, modify or transform them through sound, visual art, and performance.
You’ve worked with SHAPE alumni Tomoko Sauvage and NSDOS. Can you talk about these collaborations?
Tomoko Sauvage and NSDOS represent influences from the past and the future; I actually just realised this through your question. Tomoko Sauvage is the master of sound meditations through her compositions and the invention of her natural synthesiser; Koo (NSDOS) is the master of meditations through the body and technology.
I have learned a lot through these experiences, not only about their work but also about who they truly are and what they are doing as creative, empathetic human beings.
You are releasing your debut solo album with the 33-33 Label this year. Can you talk about it?
It is a cosmic dream that will soon turn into reality. The title of this album is ‘More Die of Heartbreak’ and it consists of my compositions from 2017 to 2020. From synthesisers to organ, bassoon, and saxophone compositions, these are the crystallisations of my personal wonder about why we live and die, and it seemed to me that it was because of that; broken hearts. When I speak of broken hearts, it is not necessarily in the sense of a romantic relationship, it could be many other things and in particular our human condition, our relationship with nature, the urban environment and other living creatures in general. It is this experience of contemporary melancholy that I have attempted to confront by looking at the ways in which music can be part of the healing process.
Interview by Lucia Udvardyova