Philippe Battikha wants to immerse us in embodied listening. He does this by drawing on a multisensory awareness of the ways we orient ourselves in the world through sound and its attendant frequencies of timbre, colour and physicality.
Trained as a professional trumpet player, Battikha expands his curiosities around sound and space, often ensemble: he co-runs the independent experimental music label Samizdat Records and co-founded a Montreal space for improvised music, L’Envers (with Ellwood Epps and others), as well as the artist-run space Sanctuary of Hope (with Matthew Gagnon Blair) in Queens, New York. After completing an MFA at Concordia University in 2019, Battikha is now focused on sonic sculptural works involving obsolete objects and interactive public scenarios. “Why only look when you can also smell and hear?” he asks. “We’re never just looking…so why not be in tune with and attentive to these other elements when creating work?” In Portraits (2019), four Victorian- style oval frames are retrofitted into a concave space within the gallery wall, providing inward-peering listeners with motion-activated aural portraits.
For Halo (2017), a vintage salon dryer chair is fitted with a quadraphonic sound system, inviting audiences to envelop themselves in a live feed of nearby places via an Ambisonic microphone. Currently an artist-in-residence at Darling Foundry, Battikha is planning, among other things, Foundry Laundry, a resuscitated storage room/community space to explore how aesthetics can prompt civic engagement, social reciprocity, friendship and change.
by Joni Low