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Profile: Artist Aura Satz

"I really like objects which have a powerfully disorienting effect"

Anna McNay

Thu, 01 Nov 2012 14:20:15 GMT | Updated 4 years today

Artist Aura Satz works across various media, including film, sound, performance and sculpture, with a particular interest in sound visualisation. During 2009-2010 she was artist-in-residence at the Ear Institute, UCL, where she was able to collaborate, amongst others, with neuroscientists and scientists studying acoustics and hearing. This autumn, she performed at Tate Modern's new live performance space, the Tanks.


Satz, who began making films in 2000, considers the kind of images she creates in film to be "uniquely filmic", such that they couldn't really exist in any other media. Although her films can, and often do, stand alone, she likes to work in constellations, with the films providing a starting point for other projects, including performances, which expand and converse with the films by providing a live soundtrack, voiceover, or visual counterpart.


Her interest in sound began about ten years ago, when she was pregnant, and she made the piece 'Ventriloqua', using a theremin, with her belly as the antenna. Most of her films centre around the materiality of sound, and the inherent paradox therein, since sound is essentially something abstract, disembodied, unstable, easily displaced, projected, and therefore profoundly disorienting.  "Sound can be very persuasive in creating a strong sense of presence or haunting, and by filming objects that are conduits or traces of sound I can evoke unexpected narratives and suggest new ways of correlating sound and image," explains Satz.


Satz, who studied art history, was inspired early on by Byzantine discussions of iconoclasm - the destruction of religious images - and admits that the notion of the relic, or trace which is haunted by presence, remains a constant concern. "I get excited by old technologies, scientific instruments and all manner of devices that somehow shift perception and experience," she says. "I really like objects which have a powerfully disorienting effect, and can make you see things differently."


"It is important to me that my work remains accessible to an uninitiated audience, not just limited to the niche of the artworld. Even if my starting point is quite specifically literary, art-historical or research-based, I would want the projects to have an appeal beyond their points of reference. I try to achieve this by creating experiences which are intriguing on a sensory, physical, perceptual level, but which then have additional conceptual depth and hidden dimensions for those willing to scratch the surface and engage on a different level. I don't have an ideal spectator in mind, but I want to provoke in my audiences a sense of curiosity and uncertainty, providing an experience which mesmerises but is also demanding of a more heightened state of attention and mindful sense of perception."


Aura Satz is one of the nominees for this year's Film London Jarman Award, the winner of which will be announced on 5 November at the Whitechapel Gallery. A full programme of events, including screenings, performances and talks by each of the ten shortlisted nominees, will be held at the gallery on 3 November from 11:30-17:30.



For further information, and to book a ticket, visit:


Jarman Awards website:


Aura Satz's website:


Images courtesy of the artist.



Anna McNay

twitter: @annamcnay


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