Paul Bright

Paul Bright employs collage as an approach throughout his practice, regardless of medium. The collection, recombination, layering and overlapping of material is the modus operandi common to all of these works. The sound collages, composed of found and collected sound fragments, arise from travel and movement. He gathers the sounds mostly "on the go", as he encounters them. We live in environments that are filled almost constantly with sounds, often the unintended byproduct of another activity, many of which we ignore in order to function. Bright doesn't premeditate his work; the pieces are put together relationally, and improvisationally, one element "playing" off another, and leading to the next. The sounds he uses display a wide range of tone, texture, and dynamic range, as well as origin, all of which converge to form a new, intuitively structured collage.

The various "pieces" of sound that collide, overlap and form layers of varying coincidence and transparency, create an aural space that shifts according to the interactions of the ambient, dynamic and textural qualities of the elements - just as transparency, color, texture and pattern create the complexity of "space" in material collages. Of course, the temporal and spatial aspects of sound are different than the dimensional qualities of tangible artworks. Though typically of brief duration, the sound collages occur over time. Objects occupy space, but sound fills space, manifesting, like light, as a "physical" radiance that if we didn't "feel" we wouldn't hear (or see). His aural works can be thought of as sound "objects", with duration rather than size being their limiting dimension.

Vision may be privileged over our other senses, but sights are less evocative than sounds. His sound collages are abstract or non-representational -they are not music, or narrative, or soundtrack- and fresh associations and formal linkages are created between the sound fragments, which we hear apart from their sources and any visual cues. Yet they also retain allusions to or "memories" of their original context or intent, while being part of newly created work. This tension between the past and present lives of their elements is the one of the primary energies his collages.


Paul Bright began using sound for his work only recently, in 2008, as he expanded his approach to collage. Noticing the sounds in the environments where he collected materials for his "physical" collages, he thought of similarly using the aural elements to create sound collages. With the advent of small, high resolution digital recorders, he was able to collect sound as spontaneously as torn posters or paper, an important quality for an artist who prizes the dialogue he establishes with "the found". He forms the sound collages much like he does his material ones, spontaneously structuring them of discrete parts. They are not intended to be narratives or "sound-walks"; they are abstract works built from fragments of the familiar. Bright uses our urge to identify specific sounds as a lure into "sound-objects" that frustrate that desire for definition and narrative completeness. The sounds remain themselves, but they are relocated into the new context the artist has constructed for them. Bright received his BFA from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC in 1986. He has exhibited the sound collages in tandem with material collages in recent exhibitions in Italy and Canada. Since the late 80s, he has shown in numerous venues in Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Italy, and the US. He has also received grants and residencies, in the US and Canada.

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