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Ethan Coombridge

October 11, 2018

Conspicuously placed at centre stage, Ethan’s tripod and blank 3m long banner attracted an abundance of attention at its inaugural iteration last Saturday night. Surrounded by glowing artworks – many City Lights attendees were curious and a little unsure of exactly what The Relocation Project was about.

Born out of an interest in the contribution humans make in shaping their sonic environment, The Relocation Project seeks to open a discourse around the uniqueness and ephemeral nature of sound. The process is simple:
While playing a recording of the previous (or original) soundscape into the contemporary moment, Ethan simultaneously re-records the combined sonic occurrence of the original with the added sound of the new or 'live' soundscape. Proving that no two sonic occurrences are ever the same, as the ‘sound event’ is a product of multiple sounds coming into contact with each other for just a moment before the next event happens.

Ethan Coombridge entertains an experimental practice working across disciplines of sculptural installation, sound production and observation, bad drawings, and small publications. We asked him for the latest on the project, as well as his creative practice, and thoughts for the future.


How did you establish your style and how would you describe it?


I wouldn't say I have one particular style yet, but one element in my workflow that is fairly consistent is that my studio is a mess, I hoard materials, potter around, tinker with things and keep a generally inquisitive approach in the studio. The side of my practice that leans more to the sculptural is usually ad-hoc assemblage, with a focus on process and repetition and a physical doing.


Describe your creative process in five words:


Simple. Open. Noisy. Investigational. Cluttered.


Tell me about the phrase 'Sonic Environment' - how do you explain this concept and its significance to your work?


The sonic environment is a broad term which relates to our perception and experience of sound. As the term might suggest, it is the tie and relationship between an environment and the sounds that inhabit it, if we went to a different environment, we would encounter different sounds. This sonic identity of a place and time is found in my work through the use of the recording process, and the feeding in, layering and compounding of previous sonic identities to create some new sonic entity out of what has already passed.

Who or what has been your greatest influence?


Although I think John Cage and Cagean Aesthetics are overused and a bit naff, I see the importance that he and his ideas have had in the discourse of sonic arts with the reframing of found sound and acousmatic listening in the use of composition and generally appreciating sounds that naturally occur. This year I have also been listening to lots of different sound artists across disciplines, from Merzbow’s harsh noise to Hildegard  Westerkamp’s layered soundscapes. I also recommend listening to Framework Radio, a podcast dedicated to field recording and phonography.


Of the recordings, you have taken at Comet so far, what is the most interesting and/or hilarious thing you have heard played back?


“it’s not working”


What's next for you?


I am set to graduate at the end of November, after that, I am moving to the UK to find work and continue producing art. I also hope that the Relocation Project will rear its ugly head a few more times [otherwise the 3m banner would seem a bit pointless].

Gun to your head - you have one song to sing to save yourself - what song do you choose?

With Ukulele in hand: Somewhere over the rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Without Ukulele in hand: 4”33’ – John Cage

Written by Alicia Taylor

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