Christopher Steenson is a sound artist based in Dublin. His practice uses sound as a sculptural material, as a way of exploring psychological states of consciousness, depression and anxiety and their relationship to the modern ideals of technological utopianism.
Steenson plays with the addictive allure of technology and its altering effects on our minds and environment. His sound works contain an underlying feeling of anxiety and disjunction. Fragments of audio are presented as aesthetically pleasing motifs, whilst also inducing feelings of nervousness and powerlessness.
The time-evolving patterns of computer code and algorithms – such as feedback loops and corecursion – are used as aesthetic devices within the works, whilst also being used explicitly in their creation. In this way, Steenson artworks admit a silent defeat to society and its ability to separate itself from technology. Networks of code and data are fundamentally ‘inside us’; they are essential to how we make sense of the world around us. However, by making artworks that invite people to listen, he hopes to lift a veil of sorts – demonstrating the ways people can ‘eavesdrop’ on technology’s penetrative power, and how this power can be subverted creatively.
Christopher Steenson (b. 1992) originally studied Psychology at University, before embarking on a PhD investigating the relationship between auditory perception and human movement control. Eventually, he became disillusioned with academia and the prospects of a satisfying career as a postgraduate researcher. Nevertheless, the PhD taught Steenson valuable skills, such as audio synthesis and computer programming, which he realised could be used to creative ends. Additionally, through reading psychological, philosophical and anthropological texts on auditory perception, he became increasingly interested in the representational possibilities that sound offered as an artistic medium.
To date, Christopher Steenson’s work has manifested itself as site-specific performances and compositions. These works have appeared in a bank vault, church hall, univerity stairwell and city street way. His work has been shown at the EastSide Arts Festival, the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas and NCAD Gallery, Dublin. His tape-based composition Let Me Tell You was recently included on a compilation sound works curated by Catalyst Arts, which was premiered at the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast. He participated in Sounding Paths 2019, a residency for site-specific sound and intermedia project in Syros, Greece. He is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.