Barbara Ellison is a composer and audio|visual artist living and working in The Hague.
Her work explores a ghostly presence and substance in a plethora of sonic and visual realms. Playing and exploiting the phenomenon of pareidolia and apophenia, she creates audio/visual works manifesting as live performance, installation, drawings, videos, computer animation, photographs, prints, sound recordings and sound compositions.
Through her work and research with ‘Phantoms’, She explores states of auditory and visual ambiguity working with materials that are either naturally ambiguous or have been ‘composed’ or created to attain this quality, in order to exploit the potential for apophenia to manifest, bringing with it what she calls a ‘phantasmatic’ presence.
She moves playfully between composing, making films, installations, sculpture, drawings and live performance. With a strong interest in ritual and ritualisation, her performances also often play with ritualistic forms giving rise to sonic structures emerging through a hypnotic repetitious exploration of apparently simple sound-producing actions. She avidly explores the turbulent waters of repetition, obsession and intensity, as well as the untamed sonic creatures that lurk in that enticing realm.
She has developed a syncretic approach that encompasses and coalesces all kinds of sources, materials, techniques and creative tools: from exploring and performing with the sonic intricacies of amplified objects (Drawing Phantoms), creating voice avatars with trans-human capabilities (Vocal Phantoms), creating ‘Phantom Portraits’ or carrying out field expeditions from diverse environments such as the Arctic, the Himalayas, or the Amazonian rainforest (Natural Phantoms).
She performs internationally with her own solo work and is active in The Netherlands with collaborative collective Trickster. Her field recording expeditions have taken her all over the world – such as Baffin Island, Nunavut, Arctic (2010), Amazon, Brazil (2011), Svaneti, Georgia (2012), Danum Valley rainforest in Borneo (2012), Cardamom rainforest, Cambodia (2013), Mmabolela, South Africa (2013/14/15), Iceland and Australia (2013) & Chile and Bolivia (2015) and Himalayas (Mustang, Nepal (2016).
She has a PhD from the University of Huddersfield, UK (‘Sonic Phantoms’) and co-ordinates and teaches the Sonology Education minor programme (Loco-Lab) at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She co-ordinates and co-produces the Sonic Mmabolela artists residency and workshop with Francisco López, in South Africa.