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When science, art and happy accidents collide – a meeting with Samuel Rodgers, AA2A artist-in-residence

January 30, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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University of Wolverhampton AA2A artist Samuel Rodgers is a musician and an artist. His practice encompasses performance, composition, installation and phonography.

Jackie Sanderson and I, AA2A student reps at Wolverhampton, went to meet Samuel to find out more about what he’s currently working on while at the university. We met him in his adopted studio: the sound proof fine metalwork room (which has an impressive collection of hammers).

The many hammers in the fine metalwork room

Samuel’s academic background, he explained to us, is in music and performance. However, since graduating from his masters he has become increasingly interested in the materials he uses just as much as the sounds they create. He has recently been exploring the spatial and material aspects of sound and listening. He has also been considering material in relation to light and looking. This is Samuel’s second AA2A residency, his previous being at Dudley College, where he worked with glass. He is now looking at metal.

He explained how he sees a parallel with the way that light responds to the metals he is working with and the way that sound responds. He seems to be very much an artist of the many senses.

Samuel told us about his current project. He is currently looking at parabolic metal forms. His aim is to create sound parabolic metal reflectors to use in an installation or installations towards the end of his residency. He’s been making small bowl-shaped metal forms in the fine metal workshop, which he showed us. However, he is hoping shortly to make larger-scale forms as well. He talked us through how the smaller bowls are crafted and what he’s observed about them in relation to sound and light.

These objects may have a function in his work, but they are beautiful objects in their own right.

One of Samuel's bowls

Samuel told us about how he usually works in collaboration with other artists or musicians. We suggested to him, after noting the link between what he is doing with the metal and mathematical theory, that he might consider branching out into working with people from other academic disciplines.

Looking at what Samuel has been doing seems to confirm the idea that art is no longer an isolated practice. Perhaps it used to be more so. Contemporary art encompasses so many different academic disciplines. In Samuel’s case this may be mathematics and physics, but for other ideas it could be biology, genetics, economics, sociology to name but a few. The role of the artist is not restrictive. There is a huge scope for what an artist can do and explore.

Despite the link between mathematics and what he is doing, Samuel told us that his actual performance work tends to be intuitive rather than composed. There may be an element of science in the crafting, but in the performing it is all ‘happy accidents’. It is impossible to know for sure how the material is going to respond to sound (or light) until the performance happens; there are many factors that can influence the outcome. That is what makes this project so interesting. The process begins by being very controlled and dependent on theory and the performance outcome is currently unknown.

Burnt metal

We very much look forward to seeing the end result!