AIR Interview: Martha Skou

Martha Skou, one of our AIR cycle 8 residents, is a multimedia artist who has been combining the worlds of visual art and sound. Looking to old printing techniques, she creates a visual poetry using burnouts, silk screen printing, and heat press. Her work crosses over into many different genres, blurring the lines between textile, sound, and music. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Martha to talk about both her personal work and collaborative work.

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On her creative background:

“My background is a diverse mix of genres. I would say I have a background in music, but am also working in design and art. I studied at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design. I’ve always been into these old printing techniques. I started looking into textiles when I did my thesis because I was trying to make the prints more dynamic and three-dimensional. I silk screen printed and experimented with heat press, burnout, and various textile techniques. I used them in my own way, which led to a piece I created with my collaborator, Louise Foo.”


On creative influences:

“I feel that so many people, environments, and faces in my life have influenced me so it’s hard to pin point one, but If I did it would be Per Elbke. He was the leader of this project workshop I was a part of for half a year. I studied at the technical art school in Copenhagen, where I could pretty much do anything I wanted to. He was there as a mentor and supporter. I found him very inspiring because he wan’t categorizing work at all, he was there more as an open minded supporter. It was a space where I could constantly move from one thing to another, between different expressions. I think this suited me very well.”

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On a typical work day:

“I don’t really have a regular work day or a specific structure. I think structure and balance in my work is something that I’m constantly working on. At the moment, I am really busy working with Louise, and going to different meetings to prepare for the show we are having. When I am working on my own, it is a mix of going from a practical process, while also doing a lot of research on the computer. I also have other periods of time where I am more in a thinking and researching phase, digging into different subjects. It depends a lot on what project I am working on, and what phase of that project I am in.”

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On the impact of her work:

“When I am working with Louise, we create these interactive experiences where we wish to facilitate the viewer with a tool to explore and be curious. Also, a way to use their phones and technology in a new way. We are very fascinated with that magic field between image and sound, which is something we want to pass on through our work. When it is my own personal work, it is more about a personal feeling I am trying to reach where the work can speak for itself. It is capturing some sort of language where it becomes more of a visual poetry.”

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On the ideal space to show work:

“With foo/skou, we can present our work in very different environments. So far it has been shown at galleries or museums, which works well because people come to the space so tuned in and open. It is also interesting to present, due to working with the iPhone apps, to challenge the audience to explore and look at art in a different way than they are used to and to make this mainstream technology a part of the artwork. In my own work, I definitely feel that the gallery room is appealing because it is a place where people come to experience, but I also find public spaces and venues to be interesting.”

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On what influences her work:

“In foo/skou we have been looking back in time, to old sound experiments that keep coming up as inspiration. The most important one is the ANS synthesizer, which is an old sound device experiment from the ’30s. It is not very well known, but is a huge instrument where you can scan a drawing to be turned into sound. That experiment is sort of the backbone to most of Louise’s and I work, but also my personal work. The magical connection of how you can bring together these two worlds. For concept development, I look to the past, but of course keep in mind the future and what is going on in the scene. We can sometimes be in a funny place in the middle where we are looking in all directions, instead of being too zoomed in on one. We enjoy artists who are both musicians and visual artists like Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Olatur Eliason, and Tristan Perich who are working between both genres.”

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On her dream project:

“I think it would be super awesome to have a traveling exhibition where it was something that could embrace all the areas I am working with. I would love at some point to have a performance where visual elements, sound, and music could all come together. It is a little hard for me to predict at this point, but it could be an app that became an instrument where people could join in on the performance, while also having visuals that you could interact with.”

Martha studio 132Photos by Sam Crow

Check out the video below to see Martha in action!


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