NetBlipz Episode Eight: Aliya Ultan and Stuart Wheeler

Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 4:00pm
WESU Middletown 88.1FM

Episode Eight of NetBlipz, the new WESU Middletown 88.1FM series that puts a spotlight on the remarkable skills and imagination of the Wesleyan Music Department, will feature the work of graduate students Aliya Ultan and Stuart Wheeler.

This program will also be available to stream from WESU's show archives for two weeks after the broadcast.

Stream this episode from the WESU archives here.

Stuart Wheeler's pieces are for unaccompanied voice(s) and are based around the de/reconstruction of language from existing texts. The original texts haunt the new ones but do not make their presence known.

Aliya Ultan's “Two of One is One as Many” attempts to depict a constellation between pink, noise, trash, gender, and consumerism via an audiovisual scoring system. The way in which she fuses these elements is by creating an audiovisual soup in which the danger of their interrelations transpires. The soundscore is made solely from a single recording of a tea kettle heating-up and then cooling-down. Each body part that makes up the distorted face of two lovers triggers a fragment of the tea kettle’s song when opening and triggers an abrupt cutoff when closing.

Trash is inherently human as the current state of things makes it merely impossible to live without producing a significant amount of waste on a daily basis. In “Silver Pony," Ultan aims to explore this by using a pink plastic film to depict grotesquely human parts such as an umbilical cord, intestines, and the walls of a giant womb. The car is transformed into a kind of monstrous mothership that both feeds and consumes a young woman who represents the shell of a childhood memory. “Silver Pony” is ultimately the rehashing of the day when her family lost their home. After living in their car for many years, it was stolen one night, later reappearing in a towing lot with broken windows, their clothes and notebooks pissed on, dolls disassembled, et cetera. When experiencing this, she remembers feeling as though they had lost a member of their family as the car had taken care of them and was now the victim of a crime.

Ultan's "Study 1 for Cello and Subtitles" systematically breaks language, image, and sound to split the ear and eye so much so that the essence of one’s experience is that of a collage. The puzzle-like logic that emerges from the piece is purposefully unsolvable as the content is censored via her own inability to fully remember a traumatic event from her childhood.