Sound Art Alumna Lemon Guo '18 Completes Residency at Headlands Center for the Arts

BY Audrey Deng, November 5, 2019

This year, sound art alumna Lemon Guo ’18 was an artist in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts, in collaboration with Sophie Shen. Headlands Center for the Arts is a multidisciplinary, international arts center dedicated to supporting artists; the creative process; and the development of new, innovative ideas and artwork. Based in Marin, CA, the center supports all artists from visual artists to performers, musicians, writers, and videographers—and provides opportunities for independent and collaborative creative work.

The artist in residence program provides artists with the time and space necessary to develop their work in a productive, inspiring environment. Guo and Shen plan to develop a large-scale multimedia work that might be used in combination with field recordings, visuals, texts, and live electronics to deconstruct traditional Chinese folk songs and their complex sociopolitical and cultural history.

Guo and Shen’s project involves the Chinese traditional instrument (pipa) and voice. Shen will play the pipa; Guo will use her voice. Said Guo, in a statement to the university: “This is not a very common combination.” Their project is informed by both artists’ understanding of Chinese culture, as well as field recordings, visuals, texts, and live electronics that deconstruct traditional Chinese folk songs and their complex sociopolitical and cultural history.

“Right now we have recorded seven new compositions, which could grow into an album, a live audio-visual performance, an AR book, or something else,” Guo said, “The work Sophia and I did here opened me up into what I feel like is the beginning of a very long process, so I can't see the end of it yet, and that is very exciting.”

Guo is a singer, composer and sound artist from China. With a background in Chinese folk music, Guo graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015 with a distinguished major in music composition (BA), and received an MFA in Sound Art from Columbia University. Her recent work often creates intimate yet distant listening situations for evocative and subtle vocal performances.

She has performed and exhibited in Asia, North America, and Europe, in institutions such as Rubin Museum of Art, Katonah Museum of Art, Issue Project Room, Fridman Gallery, Ambient Church, 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center (New York), EcoSono Festival of Environmental Music and Sound Art (Alaska), New Interface for Musical Expression (Virginia), International Computer Music Conference (Korea), Chronus Arts Center (Shanghai), Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen/Hong Kong), Madrid International Film Festival (Spain), and OTO Asobi B-side (Tokyo).