The sound of becoming matter, of becoming human
By Camila Apaez
Ceramics to me is a place for research, for association. The studio is like a womb of potentiality, where clay is just the means, but the concerns that permeate it are far more reaching. In my studio work, I blend my research of the body, my curiosity about nature, my interest in poetry and words…
These apparently disconnected themes spend a lot of time rumbling in my mind, floating around in the back of my head while I drive, while I walk, while I draw or look at images, and eventually, there is a point where things get cohesive, a very precise place in time where things become: something that was just on the realm of thoughts takes shape and turns physical. I might still have to do some scraping, firing and glazing, but the material has already been through enough transformations that it already has physicality, it takes up a place in space and time, it relates to its surroundings, it has weight and texture.
This process of becoming is something that I´m deeply interested in. This idea of transformation is for me a never ending theme, since so many things happen though it and because of it.
Lately, this idea of transformation has opened so many doors in my investigations: most recently, it drew me to sound, and it also allowed me to connect my ceramics practice with my psychotherapy studies (I´m currently studying a masters in Clinical Psychology).
I´ve always been somewhat curious about sound, but I had never really tried anything seriously because I would naturally associate sound with music and I was always intimidated by the idea of it (evidently because I tried it long ago and it didn’t work, and also because my brother is a classical pianist and it would be almost offensive to start making music out of the blue while he has spent all his life sitting at the piano).
However, recently I stopped being hesitant about this curiosity and I began taking my tascam to the studio. I would place the recorder next to the piece that I was working with and I would hear all of the sounds that occurred while working, while wedging, while mixing clay, while loading the kiln. It’s been amazing to discover matter through its sounds, and to find another realm in which clay manifests.
This experience has allowed me to expand the way I listen, not just to occuring and incidental sounds, but also, to people. Evidently or not, this curiosity came to me parallel to the search for being a better listener at my clinical practice. I´m not quite sure which idea was first, but at some point, I thought that if I listened more deeply to the sounds that matter made while becoming, I could also be more caring and attentive when listening to my clients in their search to too, become, whatever that meant for them.
It’s been amazing for me to find these resonances between apparently disconnected practices and processes, since it has been an infinite source of creativity. Matter in transformation was already an interest for me, and also an implicit concept in ceramics, however, this has led me to research the sound impressions of matter in transformation, the sound that matter makes while it becomes.
I cannot help but to link these ideas to the fundamental concepts of psychotherapy, where the spoken word (just another configuration of sound) is intrinsic for healing, for transformation, for becoming, or coming back to, a certain way of being, of existence.
And although today there are multiple approaches to therapy, some more cognitive, some more somatic, (that would be another conversation), at the root of every approach, the spoken word is necessary, and the idea of free association, of speaking freely in the search for something (I say something since different approaches seek different content) I relate it metaphorically to all of the soundscapes that occur while creating my pieces, as if they were too in the search for their most definite shape. I guess this is why I gravitate to more amorphous, organic forms, since although I do make sketches for most of my pieces, they are also a manifestation of their own sound, of their own voice.
All of these recent curiosities and sounds have developed into personal work and also collaborations with amazing local and foreing sound artists (I´ll keep you posted on this since it´s still a WIP), which is really exciting.
I feel very fortunate for being able to work with a medium that allows so many explorations, and that can be worked with through infinite approaches and techniques. I explore functionality as a suggestion, and I have pieces where it definitely interests me as a possibility (like the Permanent Collection) however, these more recent projects have also allowed for different ends and results. Ceramics is most definitely a place for infinite research and self inquiry, and to me, it’s also a place for convergence and unexpected associations.