Andy Slater: Sound As Sight

June 3, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary Chicago
2233 S Throop St
Chicago, IL 60608


Andy Slater


As part of Mana First Saturdays, Spring 2017 Sponsored Artist Andy Slater presents a sound installation. Andy writes:

The sounds of the Mana Contemporary building are very intriguing. There are countless fans, lights, doors, motors, and vents that project unique drones and tones. Some of these sounds have become landmarks to me and help me navigate. The hum of the water fountains means I am on the right path to the restrooms near the cafe. The low frequency rattle of the weird fan up high in the wall tells me I am near the elevator. The sound of my cane reflecting off the glass wall means I am close to the HCL studio, and so on.

I have begun recording these sounds and then playing them back in different spaces. Taking them out of their rooms and into another allows me to listen deeply and analyze each sound. There are some very complex sounds going on and it makes me kind of giddy. This has made me realize just how loud the Mana building can be. Even a recording of an empty room is taken over by dins and hums and bonks coming from who-knows-what that my ears don’t notice when I am standing there.

For this installation I will record my favorite sounds and most imporatant landmarks and re-amplify them into different parts of the 4th and 5th floor. Speaker size will depend on the frequency of the recording and acoustics of the space. Some speakers will be hidden and some will be out in the open with volume and EQ controls for the audience to interact with. I will produce a map indicating where the original sounds can be found as well as the relocated ones. The map will also include my comments on each sound’s sonic quality and navigational purpose.

I will also record myself navigating the 2 floors to be heard through headphones. This sound walk will track a route that relies on the landmarks and can be followed by reading the map. I will record one walk through with my cane and one without. This will show how the sonic environment can change with the inclusion of my tapping cane.


Andy Slater

Frank Pollard, 2017

Andy Slater is a legally blind musician, audio engineer, author, and disabilities advocate. He describes his sonic work as “art made because of his disability”. Due to his visual impairment, his ears function as navigation, safety, and problem solving tools. Because of this, he listens with great detail and focus making it hard not to listen critically.

Andy began composing experimental music as a teen in the early 90s. He moved to Chicago in 1994 to attend classes in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sound Department. After a decade away from school he returned in 2010 to complete his education. He graduated from SAIC in 2013 with a BFA focusing in sound composition and music history.

Andy has a large catalog of recorded music dating back 30 years that includes robotic synthesizer music, art-metal, acid-rock, musique-concrete, as well as scoring and sound design for film. He currently heads the experimental funk septet, the Velcro Lewis Group. Andy is an engineer at Chicago’s Frogg Mountain Recording studio where he obsesses over making every sound he hears perfect. It’s the curse of the overactive ear.

Andy has exhibited and performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, Sonophilia Sound Festival (Lincoln, UK), National Employment Lawyers of America conference, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Elastic Arts, Defibrillator, Comfort Station, Enemy, Buddy, Dogmatic, Workman, Bodies of Work, Quimby’s Bookstore, the Empty Bottle, and Hideout. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, WLS ABC7, Clickhole, WFMU’s Free Music Archive, Ten By Ten, Jane magazine, High Times, Vice. He was the winner of the 2008 Miss Greenpoint Pageant pie-eating contest.