Victoria Shen: Light Scratches, Deep Cuts
Light Scratches, Deep Cuts is an electro-acoustic exhibition by San Francisco based sound artist Victoria Shen. Shen's site-specific installation features turntables mounted vertically in Indexical’s windows, playing back translucent resin bootlegs of 16-inch radio transcription records produced by the American military in the 1940s and 50s. Bows meant for stringed instruments have been modified and outfitted with diamond-tipped needles as though they were record player tone arms. Over the course of the exhibition, the spinning records which project light and sound into the gallery will be gradually worn down by the needles. Each record performs its own purpose and erasure simultaneously, which is ultimately its existence as a living document. A concert bass drum strung up in the rafters of the space also serves as a sound source, lending a sense of gravity and suspension to the often overlooked material and embodied properties of sound.
Throughout the 2022-23 Season, Indexical is commissioning new work for its windows and rafters. Visible at eye-level from the sidewalk adjacent to Indexical's River St. facade in Santa Cruz, these installations are suspended above the audience during performances and opening hours. Exhibitions will run for up to four months, and will align with performances and writing on the commissioned artists.
evicshen is a sound artist, experimental music performer, and instrument-maker based in San Francisco. Her personal identity; her body; is the space her work utilizes to restructure sonic meaning. In her live performances, she proposes an exploration between meaning and non-meaning through the physical activation of noise tropes. Her probing into these melodic voids interrogate the ways we perceive value within aural experiences. The appendage-like instruments and objects she makes, exemplify Shen’s ability to embody through sound her interest in the tension created by opposition: control and chaos, the unique and the mass produced, the practical and the absurd.
Shen’s multimedia practice extends beyond musical composition and performance to include installation and non-traditional methods of distribution. Her DIY approach to deconstructing the concepts of “materiality, value and mass production” both integrate and re-contextualize the formats of the readymade and assemblage techniques. For example, the album art for her debut LP, Hair Birth, utilizes copper to transform the cover into a loudspeaker through which the record can be played. In 2021, Shen produced a series of cut-up records in cast resin embedded with found materials, functioning not only as playable music media but as unique art objects. For recent performances, she pioneered the use of Needle Nails, acrylic nails with embedded turntable styluses, which allow her to play up to 5 tracks of a record at once. Needle Nails, Levitating speaker, and her Noise Combs are some of the objects created by her as part of an extensive repertoire of innovations in the design of sound augmentation. These sculptural elements invite the viewer to unpack one’s relationship with the material possibilities for creating sound.
Shen has performed solo across North America, Japan, Mexico, and Europe as Evicshen and as half of the duo TRIM in North America and the UK. Some notable venues in which she has performed include Boston City Hall, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, ISSUE Project Room NY, DOMMUNE Tokyo, and Petreon Sculpture Park Cyprus. Shen has also been an artist in residence at Elektronmusikstudion EMS Stockholm SE, WORM Rotterdam NL, Kurimanzutto New York US, the Sound Laboratory of The Royal Danish Academy Copenhagen DK, and AUDIUM San Francisco.