Camille Norment is an artist and musician based in Oslo and is Norway's representative at the 2015 Venice Biennale with the installation and performance series "Rapture". This is the first of three guest lectures connected to the joint course on sound art arranged between KiT and the department of Music Technology.
Norment's Rapture is a site-specific sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist has composed new music on the glass armonica—a legendary 18th-century instrument which creates ethereal music from glass and water. Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but was later banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill by overexciting its listeners.
In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music sustains today by creating a multi-sensory space within which she reflects upon the history of sound and contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance. The artist composes a chorus of voices corresponding to the unresolved notes of the much-censored "devil's" tritone of the glass armonica, thus immersing visitors into Rapture.
Rapture explores the relationship between the human body and sound through visual, sonic, sculptural and architectural stimuli. Today the sonic realm can be both a space of misuse—as we have seen in the militaristic use of sound to abuse the body—and of affirmation—as in the performative utterance of free speech to affirm the right of the body's very existence. The body can be stimulated and moved by sound, and in Norment's work, the Nordic Pavilion itself becomes a body in rapture and rupture, subject to consonance and dissonance.
Throughout the run of the Venice Biennale, Norment has been performing new compositions on the glass armonica and has invited artists as well as musicians to participate in a series of performances that echo elements of the installation.