Sanan & Salem (About Us)

Patrick Sanan: The Power, The Glory

Patrick / NYC '10

Sam Salem: The Majesty, The Mystery

Sam / NYC '10

About Us

Sam Salem and Patrick Sanan met at the University of Manchester while both pursuing Masters’ degrees in Electroacoustic Composition. They soon became friends and collaborators, in part due to their common backgrounds, both of which included technical training and studies (Sam in Computer Science, Patrick in Engineering and Mathematics) combined with an intense interest in electroacoustic music and electronic visual arts. In addition to their collaborative work, Sam is working as a composer, finishing his PhD at the University of Manchester, while Patrick is a PhD candidate in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Caltech, studying topics in physical simulation and computer modelling.

While work as a duo has focused on installed audiovisual work, both artists are keenly interested in acousmatic music, which emphasizes direct, reduced listening techniques and often appeals to physical experience with sounds to create engaging, relatable, yet often almost wholly abstract pieces of music without the traditional pitch, rhythmic, or performative structures of other musical forms. This influence is evident in the installed work, wherein similar attention to physical intuition, and indeed physical modeling,  is used to motivate an abstract and archetypal presentation of forms.

The artistic aims of the duo could be summarized as “The pursuit of direct perceptual engagement, as supported by technology”. As such, works are far more concerned with the nature of and perception of color, shape, place, space, time, physics, and movement than they are with ‘higher level’ experiences, aspects of human society, or indeed with the use of technology as itself a central aim of the work.

In pursuit of these goals, a great deal of technology is employed. Software provides live audio and video synthesis, physical modeling, and sensor input processing. Cameras, microphones, speakers, and projectors connect the simulations with the physical installations. Despite these complexities, technology is used to support, rather than to inform, the artistic aims of the piece.

it has always been a point of pride that installations have been keenly enjoyed by children as well as adults. This suggests that the work is both as directly visually and sonically appealing as intended and that its appeal relies only on general, shared experiences with reality which all people share.  Children are perhaps more concerned with these experiences, not having had as much exposure to the more complex and culture-specific ideas encountered growing up in society, nor familiarity with any particular technology.

Of particular importance is the presentation of work in such a way that it can be accessed and appreciated by the general public, in keeping with the idea of appealing directly to physical experience (as perhaps opposed to art concerned more with more specific ideas about culture, society, language, history, or art itself). Thus, installation in (and adaptation to) spaces accessible and visible to the public becomes a key component of the success of a work.

The most important work thus far has been Pondlife, (as described in the Proposal section) and much of the artistic ethos for the collaboration has been refined during the multiple iterations of this project.

In the future, Sanan and Salem strive to refine and extend these artistic ideas by examining different universal, compelling, aesthetically appealing physical archetypes and designing audiovisual work inviting participants to enjoy and explore simple and beautiful forms, and the complexities which can be derived from them.

  • September 14th, 2010
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