INSTINC AIR Jan to Mar 2017: Charlotte Parallel (New Zealand)

Above photo: Artist Charlotte Parallel with her MFA installation Ecologies of transduction at the Anteroom, New Zealand, 2016.

INSTINC is pleased to welcome Charlotte Parallel from New Zealand, a successful candidate of the Asia New Zealand Foundation grant, and who will be here at INSTINC from January to March 2017. 


Q: Hi Charlotte, welcome to INSTINC! you mentioned you started as a painter, so how did you transition to working with sound?  

CP: Hi, thank you all for the warm welcome. It is a real pleasure to be a part of the Instinc residency programme and to be in Singapore. Yes, I enrolled in painting at art school but finished with an interest in installation and sculpture. More recently, I completed my MFA, "Ecologies of Transduction", which focused on a combination of sound, sculpture and performance. I have always enjoyed noise and DIY sound practices but it was through a collaboration with a friend and colleague Ali Bramwell in 2012, that I really got into making sound objects. Sound was new for both of us at the time, so we had quite an experimental approach that cost us a few amplifiers! Speakers are compelling objects; as transducers (a process that converts one energy into another) that also generate their own magnetic field. Our first collaboration titled "Magnetic field data" was a configuration of about 50 speakers, wired up and plugged into an amplifier. We then used an external microphone to detect the magnetic field generated from the speaker’s electromagnets and played the corresponding sounds of the energetically sensitive magnetic field.

"Magnetic field data" was an enormous amount of fun to make and ‘play’ as a collaborative performance piece.  I think this work was probably the turning point that led my practice into a deeper interest in transduction and the energetics of sound.  


detail DPS CP and 4 cp landscape 520px Above: Detail of "Data Processing System - a sonic cartography of Venice", 2015, by Charlotte Parallel. Image courtesy of the artist. 


Q: Could you share with us a little about your artwork? 

CP: In a general sense I am interested in participatory sound works, sonic cartography, performance and as I mentioned before the concepts of electromagnetism and transduction. By using a combination of these elements I hope to make works that direct attention to the active forces of a place and how humans and the non-human exist in an energetic continuum. The activation of sound, linked to a cartographic object has the potential to relay the intersecting and often unseen operations of geo-political, economic, ecological and social infrastructures.

To conduct sonic research, I have a mobile sound tool kit. My kit consists of; a hydrophone, a DIY solar panel-light to sound transducer, a stethoscope microphone and a zoom recorder.  The use of these tools listens in on environments or infrastructures that are often invisible and inaudible. Such as the hydrophone which is used to amplify underwater sounds. Or the solar panel-to-amplifier that coverts light to sound. For example, the sound of street lights, LED signs, ATM machine screens, anything that uses the electrical pulse of powered light in the transfer of information. I am particularly interested in electrical networks and systems that are part of our day-to-day visual and operational landscape. Our everyday use of electrical energy implies a relationship, a field of engagement between one thing and another.

After walking, commuting and recording sounds using my mobile research kit I install the sounds within an interactive object. The final work is realised through audience participation. 


Q: What were some of the reactions from the audience to your work? Also, what continues to inspire you about this subject matter / medium? 

CP: Each person makes a different choice in how they interact with the work and therefore activate a different combination of sounds. This is a really satisfying part of the process for me and is where the work comes into its own. Some people really enjoy the chance to touch art! And make decisions in how they want to experience it on their own terms.

Participation as a means of completing the work is a key motivation of my practice.

Sound is ongoing; a force activated by the interaction of matter. Key questions that continue to inspire me are, how do we embody the phenomena of sound?  What are the ecologies of signal? And what are the intersecting forces of an event? 


boy on map and CP1 520px Above left: Collaboration between Charlotte Parallel and cartographer Tony Moore for the exhibition Art and Space held at the Skinner Annex, Dunedin, New Zealand. Scientists and artists paired up to make a collaborative art work, which was a map of electrical networks surrounding the gallery. When people walked on the map, they stepped on buttons underneath each symbol that activated a corresponding sound.

Above right: Performance piece with speaker stacks (half plugged as inputs and half as outputs- playing the feedback), Dunedin, New Zealand, 2014, by Charlotte Parallel. 


Q: So what is the starting premise for your work here in Singapore during the residency, and how do you plan to proceed? 

CP: Over this first week- using a psychogeographical approach- I have spent time exploring Singapore- by foot, bus, train and boat to listen and record sounds. I am in the process of making a sound map using plastic cups and small speakers to ‘rough out’ some ideas. Over this month I will continue to; make experiments as a way of processing initial responses, travel with my mobile sonic research kit, trace electrical networks and infrastructures, research, and experience Singapore. These experiments will form the basis for continuing lines of inquiry.

It is a core intention and hope of my residency to collaborate with artists who are interested in site specific practices. This could be anything from making a performance in a shopping mall, activating a chosen place through media, forming a discussion group etc... I guess, coming up with a means to respond to a site. The premise is broad and open at this point. If you are reading this and thinking you would like to be involved in some way, or have any questions or comments, please get in touch. I would really like to hear from you. My email is charlotteparallel @

The chance to make, think, and experience art full time in a residency situation is a special opportunity. Thank you Instinc and the AsiaNZ Foundation. 


INSTINC: Thank you Charlotte, we look forward to your exhibition at the end of March! 

- From an email interview with Charlotte Parallel, 11 January 2017 



About Charlotte Parallel  

Charlotte Parallel is a recent MFA graduate at Otago School of Art and a practicing artist in the fields of sculpture, sound installation, collaboration and performance. Often choosing to respond to site in a temporal way. She has been exhibiting within New Zealand consistently over the last 14 years and internationally since 2010.

Since 2003 Dunedin has been the home base for Charlotte Parallel’s artistic activity which includes a range of curatorial and community initiated collaborative art projects. In 2010 Charlotte moved into the old Masonic Lodge in Port Chalmers to start an artist run initiative called the Anteroom. The Anteroom is committed to representing experimental projects with a national and international network of exhibiting artists. 


Charlotte Parallel's recent work 


(research activity to gather sonic data by playing the light networks in Venice)

These sounds were recorded and installed as part of the work Data Processing System - a sonic cartography of Venice, “Jump into the Unknown,” Palazzo Loredan del’Ambasciatore, collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale, co-commissioned by Nine Dragon Heads and Nuova Icona, 2015.