Gail Priest is a Sydney-based sound artist. Her work comprises solo electro-acoustic performance and recordings, sound installations for gallery contexts, sound design for performance and video, as well as curation, critique and advocacy.

Artist Statement

I seek to have a multifaceted practice that explores the aural realm both materially and conceptually. The many manifestations of this play out an ongoing argument between figuration and abstraction. How much stretching can the “figure” (of the voice, the field recording, the word even) take before it breaks and becomes abstract filaments? Alternatively, if starting with the fragments of abstraction, what residual essence of the figure do they unavoidably carry within them?

My work approaches this duality not as a battle of binaries but rather as an exploration of areas of slippage. Reflecting on Roland Barthe's notion of the "seam" or cut — the breakage point which produces bliss — my work attempts to manifest liminal zones where figuration and abstraction are presented in ever-shifting proportions. The sonic results tend towards the hyper-dynamic and super-saturated always attempting to sensorially immerse the listener and heighten awareness of the aural realm.

Additionally I am beginning intensive explorations into my relationship with sounds and words. I am interested in writing about sound as a creative act rather than a critical one and creating sound about words moving beyond text as lyric.

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NOW now 2016


NOW now 2016

Photos: top - Earopund 2016, photo Nay San; second - the NOW now 2016, video still, Sam James

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Brief biography

GAIL PRIEST is a Sydney-based artist with a multi-faceted practice in which sound is the key material of communication and investigation. Her work spans solo electro-acoustic performance and recordings, soundtracks for dance, theatre and video and gallery installations. She has performed at festivals and events nationally (the NOW now, Liquid Architecture, Sydney Biennale) and internationally (STEIM, Amsterdam; Experimontag, Berlin, Kammer Klang Café Oto, London; Kulturhuset, Oslo). Through her own label Metal Bitch she has released four albums, with Flaming Pines and Endgame Records also releasing solo CDs. In 2015-2016 she is the recipient of the Australia Council Emerging and Experimental Arts Fellowship which is allowing her to develop her national and international profile as an electro-acoustic performer and sound artist. Forming part of this is her major project, Sounding the Future, a ficto-critical body of work offering speculations as to what art in the future will sound like, with the first iteration exhibited at .move On Werkleitz Festival, Halle, Germany. She has undertaken residencies at Artspace, Performance Space, Bundanon, Tokyo Wonder Site, Bandits-Mages/La Box (Bourges, France) and Bergen Centre for Electronic Art. She curates and produces sound events and exhibitions and is currently running the gig series Pretty Gritty. She also writes extensively about sound and media arts for RealTime magazine and was the editor of Experimental Music: audio explorations in Australia through UNSW Press (2009). As an act of advocacy she has started Audible Women, an online directory for women working with experimental sound.

Full biography

Gail is currently the Australia Council Emerging and Experimental Arts Fellow (2015-2016) undertaking a program of creative and professional development to bring the many strands of her work into a more cohesive practice. The main focus of this is the development of the multi-outcome project Sounding the Future.


Live & Recorded Sound

Gail has been performing live laptop-based exploratory music since 2002 at national events such as, the now NOW festival, superdeluxe@artspace (Sydney Biennale 2010), disorientation, if you like improvised music we like you, 1/4 inch, Liquid Architecture and electrofringe as well as playing in international venues such as Experimontag (Berlin), Kammer Klang, Cafe Oto (London), Kulturehuset (Oslo),  STEIM (Amsterdam), Studios LOOS (Den Haag) and Ptmarigan (Helsinki).

She has four releases on her own label Metalbitch Recordings, imaginary conversations in reverberant rooms (CD - 2006), 28 Songs for a City: Tokyo(2CD - 2008), Fear of Stranglers (EP-CDR, 2010) and blue| green, a split vinyl LP with Kate Carr. Presentiments from the Spider Garden (CD) was released through Endgame Records in 2010 and the EP The Common Koel was released by Flaming Pines (2013) as part of the Birds of a Feather series.

Commissions include:
• radiophonic works for ABC Radio: Orpheus Project (2007); Figures in the Soundscape (2006); In Night Air Audioteque live broadcast (2005); Poems to Sing Angelic to and An Accidental Guide to Sydney 2002 the result of a 3 month residency with ABC Radio Performance and Features to produce Music Theatre for Radio
• site-specific multi-channel sound performance for Elizabeth Bay House (2006)
• co-composition of a series of works with Continuum Sax for computer/electronics and saxophone quartet which premiered at the Conservatorium of Music (2005)
• new sound performance for Typhoon - a festival of national and international sound performance at Artspace curated by Caleb Kelly(2005)
• work for headphones for—curated by Caleb Kelly (2003)
• track for Melatonin, a double CD and installation by Lawrence English presented at Next Wave 2004 in Melbourne and MAAP04 in Singapore.

Gail also has also played in the Splinter Orchestra, a mass improvisation unit, and in ERK (Electronic Resonance Korp) an eight piece laptop ensmeble.

For more detail see Live Sound & Recorded Sound 

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Sound installations - solo & collaborations

Gail creates her own work for gallery contexts as well as collaborating with other visual artists.

Highlights include:

Sounding the Future, interactive installation exhibited as part of .move ON, Werkleitz Festival, Halle-Saale, Germany, Oct 2015
Singing with Sines I & II (2011-present) headphone sound works exhibited with accompanying wall tracings exhibited at SNO Gallery (2011), CAST Gallery (2012 sound only), Home@735 March 2014.
Urban Runes, exhibited as part of Between Site & Space at Artspace (2009), a the multi-channel ineractive sound installation with video created while in residence
28 Songs for a City: Tokyo exhibited as part of Diorama of a City, at Tokyo Wonder Site (in collaboration with Artspace, Sydney), created while in residence
• creative development with UK sound artists Alex Bradley and Charlie Poulet on WhitePlane 2 at the Engine Room (Bridgwater UK), a surround sound installation originally commissioned for In Between Time at Arnolfini Bristol (2004).

Gail has composed the soundscores for video installations by Samuel James including Vivaria (2009/10/11), Anamorphic Archive (2008), Simulated Rapture (2007) exhibited at CarriageWorks, Midnight Dancer (2006) exhibited during the Sydney Festival 2008, and Post-Romantic which was included in several international dance film festivals.

Gail has created multichannel modular sound tracks for several works by Alex Kershaw including Fantasticology Tokyo: faults, flesh and flowers, Art Gallery of NSW (2013); One of Several Centres (2008/2010) Performance Space, Sydney and Fremantle Artspace, Perth,The Phi Ta Khon Project (2009), Grant Pirrie Gallery Sydney, Lake Without Water (2006) Artspace, Sydney.

In 2009 she also composed soundscores for photographer Heidrun Löhr's installation - Projections, at the Drill Hall, and her video work with Nikki Heywood, Recapturing the Vertical exhibted at the Australian Centre for Photography, 2012.

In 2007 she also co-composed (with Vic McEwan) the soundscore for Quietly Collapsed, created by Rosie Dennis with Sam James, a dance film commission for ABC TV and Channel 4 UK.

For more detail see Installations 

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Sound for performance

Originally trained as a performer (with a BA in Performance-Theatre from the University of Western Sydney), a large part of her audio work is as a sound designer for performance and she produces her own sound focused performance projects.

Highlights include:
• For Martin del Amo: It's a Jungle Out there (2009/10), Campbelltown Arts Centre, Performance Space, Dancehouse, PICA; Never Been This Far Away from Home (2007), Performance Space, Under Attack, Performance Space (2005/6) touring the UK including Arnolfini's Inbetween Time Festival, and Unsealed (2004/5), Performance Space, PICA
• For Version 1.0's The Tender Age (2012), This Kind of Ruckus (2009/10 - Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne), Deeply Offensive and Uttery Untrue (2007/09) and Wages of Spin (2005/6), Performance Space
Tough Beauty directed by Claudia Chidiac, written by Finnegan Kruckmeyer, Casula Powerhouse (2013)
• Karen Therese's The Riot Act (2009), Campbelltown Arts Centre (co-design with James Brown)
• Deborah Pollard's Blue Print (2007), Performance Space
• For PACT: Constellations (2005/2006/2007), Song of Ghosts (2004), Forked Tongues (2001) and Replicant Hotel (2000) and Altered States (2003)

She occasionally instigates her own theatre projects concentrating on experimental performative contexts for sound.
Works include:
One thing follows another, with dancer Jane McKernan, presented by Performance Space, 2014.
Earwitness (2009), creative development with Regina Heilmann
Sonic Salon (2003), a one-on-one audience installation/performance work
White Collar Project (2000) a site-specfic multimedia performance event
and Dead Girls' Party ( 1997), Performance Space with Caitlin Newton-Broad

For more detail see Theatre & Dance

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Gail curates sound and media art events, concerts and exhibitions.

Highlights include:
Pretty Gritty(2013-present), a gig series for experimental electronica at 107 Projects
MCA's Art Bar (June, 2014), guest curator producing Rapture/Rupture
Superdeluxe@ Artspace, 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) guest programmer
Circadian Rhythms (2007) Artspace
Immersion: Electrical Empathy, an audiovisual intensive residency and performance (co-directed with Sam James)
What Survives: sonic residues in breathing buildings (2006), Performance Space, and
unNnatural Selection(2006) Manning Regional Gallery in regional NSW
(2005) a gig series for experimental audiovisual work, Medium Rare Gallery
d>art Sound, dLux media arts (2004), exhibited at the Sydney Opera House
AlternaTerraZones (2004) screening program for Transmediale, Berlin
Electrofringe (2003/4), co-director

For more detail see Curation 

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Gail was the associate editor, online producer, graphic and web designer, and regular writer for the national contemporary arts magazine RealTime contributing over 150 articles on sound, music, media art and performance.

She also edited and wrote chapters for Experimental Music: Audio Explorations in Australia published by UNSW Press/The Australia Council in 2009.

Gail has had a short speculative fiction story published in the UTS Anthology Sight Lines (Xoum, 2014).

For more detail see Writing 


Other art activities

Gail has taught at the University of Western Sydney in the Theatre Making and Performance course (2002/3) and has done guest lectures at University of Wollongong, University of Technology and Edith Cowan University, WAAPA.

She has also sat on the boards of Playworks: Centre for Women's Performance Writing (1998-2000) and Performance Space (2010-2013).

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