Hélène Prévost

In Residence from 18 to 29 October 2010 and from 9 to 20 May 2011


Beyond the optimum listening conditions provided by industry, there is an everyday experience of public and private places and spaces that is never recognised for what it is. We often take for granted what we hear—or think we wish to hear. We think we are hearing the best when sometimes it is the worst. Everything plays in our favour, or disfavour: education, habitudes, cultural deafness, culture, perception, approximation, deviation, distortion of the physical medium, “botoxisation” of sources, multiple media distracting us from listening, etc. What is the stabilising reference?

Any sound broadcast is subject to intermediaries. Let’s assume for the moment that what we hear, when listening to amplified sounds, is a representation of reality while at the same time forming another reality. For this to happen, a chain of transmission is put into action. If this chain is not flawless, according to conventional and accepted standards, the result will be criticised or rejected. Or corrected.

Hélène Prévost proposes to locate her exploration at this precise place.

As if a face did not have a sole profile, +-/_\-+ will explore a few elements in the broadcast chain by reversing the initial proposition. The artist will carry out experiments by playing good sound sources on poor, limited and sub-par systems, or by playing them at very low volume, barely audible. But also by playing sound sources (instrumental, bruitist, radio, electric and all manner of degraded sounds, separated sounds, soundtracks and dense complex sounds) on good or medium-quality systems, observing the degradation, colouration, emergence of hidden sound structures and the new, heightened reality—interrogating, therefore, the concept of error.

A sound artist, musician and director of radio programs, Hélène Prévost is an adherent of field recordings, sound montage and (re)mixing. Her instrument is a cross between the radio studio and a laboratory of sound and electric confrontations. Her most recent projects are:  Les fantômes des lots vacants, Calendar, Transgressive transmissions, a<varia>ctions, TAP, Vol Qualifié (Excavation Sonore), Simulcast, l’Art des bruits,  Jeudis tout ouïe, Victoriaville Matière Sonore, Luigi’s Avatar. 

From 1978 to 2007, as a director of radio programs, she devoted herself to recording and broadcasting experimental and exploratory music at Radio-Canada (Musique Actuelle, Le Navire “Night”). She has initiated Internet projects and coordinates the artistic participation of radio programs in several large festivals, including FIMAV, MUTEK and Montréal Musiques Actuelles, as well as in projects such as Symphonies Portuaires SILOPHONE (The User). Published work in Circuit, Esse, Artexte and Musicworks has enabled her to document aspects of sound art practice and to share the way she listens to sound.  


Hélène Prévost