Woman, from the series "Sonic Portraits." 2018

Student Spotlight: Lee Gilboa '19

February 2, 2018

The Student Spotlight series aims to highlight the work of current MFA students, asking them to share thoughts on their practice by answering curated and peer-submitted questions.


Lee Gilboa '19 is an MFA Sound Arts student in her first year.


Headshot of Lee Gilboa


What themes or subjects are you currently addressing in your work?


The main themes in my work are identity, memory, and empathy. Nowadays, I am trying to see if it is possible to create portraits with sound: that is, how to create a sense of essence of an individual without any visual elements.



What materials are you working with at the moment?


I use spoken word and human sounds as creative material. I am fascinated with the way words and language dictate communication, and with the point where the global and personal meet, and language becomes our own. I am also always exploring the transmission of sound through multichannel audio systems and unconventional speaker constructions. I think that the interest in spoken word and communication comes from my silence; I have never been one to say much, and it was always through music and sound that I found my language.



Are there any themes or materials you’re interested in exploring in the future?


More speakers. Or less speakers. The transmission and perception of sound in different listening environments is really interesting because it’s always changing, at least for me—I think the way I listen has changed a lot over the years.



What challenges do you face in your practice?


The work around the concept of portraiture has been really challenging, because it really means to translate essence from visual terms to auditory ones, but since we can’t see or hear essence, the challenge became defining essence and exploring what constructs a sense of self.



Which artists or works of art inspire you? Which contemporary artists are doing interesting work?


James Blake, Nils Frahm, and Tyler The Creator inspire me in terms of sound and music. The way they construct a world that tells a story is phenomenal. Contemporary artists that are doing interesting work—I would say Salome Voegelin is a big one for me. She is a Swiss sound artist and researcher, and her book Listening To Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art changed my life.



What has been your favorite class at Columbia so far?


My favorite class is Seth Cluett’s Critical Issues class.



How do you think artists can continue growing as artists?


Keeping an open mind. You never know where your next idea is going to come from or who is going to inspire you.