Close to me, a self-portrait, 2013
Close to me, a self-portrait addresses misconceptions and constructed images of what I am to resemble as an individual who is both Inupiaq and white. Composed of multiple tracks of my breathing during different parts of a day, I created a two-channel sound installation. The visuals are not provided in this intimate portrait in response to stereotypes and preconceived ideas of what I am to look like visually.
I was inspired to create this piece by Pierre Schaeffer’s idea of the “acousmatic.” Schaeffer was a French composer, acoustician, and an electronic engineer. Schaeffer defined the acousmatic as: “Acousmatic, adjective: referring to a sound that one hears without seeing the causes behind it.”
Listening to one’s breathe is a special way to connect. With this piece, I want the listener to feel some discomfort from hearing my breathing, as I often feel discomfort when being told, “you’ve got exotic eyes, what are you?” or “you don’t look Native” due to my lighter skin tone or some other type of judgment based on my looks in relation to my cultural background. I also want the listener to feel a connection while listening to this self-portrait. We live in a society that is heavily visually driven. Experiencing each other through sounds is another way to connect.
all artwork and content © jenny irene miller