(Touch 2012)

Review by David Vélez

I had the opportunity to attend the conference that Jana Winderen gave at the ‘In the field symposium’ in London a few days ago and found her presentation rather technical and taxonomical which is surprising since her compositions present such a fictional and narrative character full of mystery and emotional content, far more sublime and way more poetic than straight-up bioacoustic works. ‘Debris’ -her more recent release- was published on 2012 on vinyl and features two pieces ‘Scuttling around in the shallows’ (A-side) and ‘Drying out in the sun’ (B-side).

Jana Winderen is well known for using hydrophones in her recordings and this seems to give to her work a great sense of texture, and ‘Debris’ is a great example of that: here the listener can feel immersed on a tactile and material environmental experience where the small details and background grave sonorities develop a very effective vertical narrative based on layers and depth.

The horizontal timeline narrative in ‘Debris’ is strongly engaging and that is probably because it sounds very natural and organic but also reveals an intentionality behind it. To me ‘Debris’ works like some sort of cinematographic piece where the artist explores different sounds in a quest that seems more emotional and narrative than conceptual. We can hear recognizable sounds such as voices, bells and birds, that when combined with other sounds -whose causality is not so clear- build altogether a very effective composition.

In this regard I believe that the intention and purpose of the artist should not be completely visible mostly when his work is influenced by his experience with a natural environment which seems to be the case here. I believe that the artist should serve as a medium between his experience with a certain environment in a certain moment and the experience of the listener with the work; the bigger effort the artist puts on exploring the formal, intellectual and emotional aspects that built his experience, the less he will have to re-create and re-present it since his explored original experience will more or less fluently and naturally manifest itself through the artistic creation. The intentionality of the artist should mimic the lack of ‘artistic’ intention behind the events created by the forces of nature where the incidental, the randomness and the adrift play a very important role.

On ‘Debris’ the overall mood is somber and gloomy and in this regard I believe that Jana Winderen’s experience with the vastness and ruthlessness of nature left an obscure imprint in her artistic creation. Likewise the places that she explores often seem to have a particular extreme character in terms of the climate conditions which
explains even further the dark mood present on most of her works and on ‘Debris’ in particular.

‘Debris’ is a fantastic release that immerses the listener in an emotional experience of deep and somber nature where every occurring event, where every layer of sound adds to a very powerful narrative structure that will leave him -the listener- equally astonished and pleased.


[Jana Winderen, photo courtesy of Send + Receive]

Jana Winderen website
Touch website

David Vélez

David Vélez (PhD) is a Colombian sonic artist studying the acoustics of food, working in the intersection between sound ethnography and plant bioacoustics. His work oversteps the boundaries of installation art, field recordings, composition, performance and commensality exploring gardens, kitchens and open food markets as exhibition spaces. Vélez is interested in the strategic artistic possibility of sound and its invisible, immersive, unstable and fluctuating material, attrubutes shared with the nourishing transference of energy in food.