Daniel Perlin - The great artist and sound designer
CultureM meets Daniel Perlin, an artist and sound designer from CultureM on Vimeo.
Do you hear the leaves rustle? Do you hear the rain falling on the roof? Have you ever thought of what the sound means? When I first met him for interview, Daniel Perlin asked me about the sound of Seoul in Korea.
Perlin, a New York-based artist and sound designer, is a virtuoso who defines the meaning of sound and makes us think again about what we’re missing in our everyday life.
As an artist, Perlin wears several hats. He works across various media creating sound, video, objects, installations and performances. His work has been shown at P.S.1, the New Museum, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Chelsea Art Museum, Guggenheim Film and many other places.
Recently, he has collaborated with Natalie Jermijenko on the installation “For the Birds” for the 2006 Whitney Biennial; Sanford Kwinter on the installation of Mutations; with Vito Acconci and Sarina Basta on the public sound installation Viraphone (Madrid); and Maya Lin for the Installation “What Is Missing?” at the Beijing Center for the Arts.
As a DJ and a musician, he has performed with artists such as DJ/rupture, m.sayyid and others. Lately, he worked as the DJ for the opening events of the Gwangju Biennale held in Korea on Sept. 2.
Working with sound is his favorite task because sound is all around us, all the time, but we so often choose to ignore it. As an artist, he likes to encourage people to reconsider, so that they can question the world around them. Sound is a great way to reach many audiences and help them to ask: “What was that, and why am I feeling this way?” This is why he chose to work with sound.
He began as a sound designer for film and television, making soundtracks. He continues to work on some feature films, though fewer, as his studio is more focused on spatial design and art. He feels that sound and new media offer flexibility to work in many genres, and if the project has the kind of attitude and idea that interests him, then he is happy to collaborate. He thinks collaboration and collective practice is one way to make strong work, and it often takes him in directions he never thought he would go.
“I get my inspiration from the world around me, from everything I see and hear and feel. What I think about when I work is how to get my idea across, for whom, and why. I always ask myself that, so who probably inspires me the most are people who have little and improvise to make what they need.
“Actually, what I would say here is that first and foremost pay attention to the people in your local scene. To design sound with an eye and ear to local conditions means that you are speaking clearly for an audience who you respect and know. So I would rather you tell me who you like in Seoul!” he said during the interview.
Perlin said that his role models are people who love what they do and want to make the world better than it is and are interested in empowering individuals, disabling corporate hegemonies and giving those without a public voice a chance to speak and be heard. His role models listen first, and then speak.
“Well, I was trained as a musician, but then I started hanging out with film geeks and painters and computer scientists and philosophers and other people at my university, and it became pretty clear that the world was very big and there were real issues that needed to be solved. I guess I moved towards design so I could work on addressing these issues in a more material way, by working with objects and spaces, including the cinema. But at the time, it was because I wanted to make cool shit that made people second guess their own positions, and sound design was a playful and fast way to do that,” he said.
These days, he is making a second iteration into a listening laboratory first built at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York. This will be installed in an anechoic chamber at the veterans’ hospital in Portland Oregon. He is also showing artwork in Santa Barbara, California in November, and DJing in Tel Aviv, Israel for Domus Magazine. In an article by the New-York Times, published May 17, 2009, he created scenarios and gave his idea for the "Center for Hearing and Communication" in Lower Manhattan, New York. He created eight audiovisual scenarios inspired by everyday life in New York City.
Instead of using beeps, tones and word lists — the more typical way to determine how well a new hearing aid works — the test conducted at the center uses sounds that might be heard in New York: cell phone chats, office discussions and the rumble of Midtown traffic.
Perlin is an artist, sound designer and DJ – a real Renaissance man.
Visit www.danielperlin.net for more information.