Agnes Szelag designs and produces multimedia pieces, electro-acoustic works, installations, and experimental video pieces. As a composer, Agnes writes for her own performances and releases as well as many collaborations. She performs using cello, voice, and electronics–often incorporating visual media and dance into her performances. As an installation artist, Agnes prefers to work with specific, forgotten sites, but has also transformed gallery spaces, buildings, and objects. Her work has been shown at Grace Cathedral, Bunkier Sztuki (Krakow), THE LAB SF, de Young Museum, Project Artaud, Artists Television Access, CCA, The Stone NY, Monkeytown, Streaming Festival, SFEMF, Soundwave and Cologne Online Festival.
As an improviser she has toured Europe and US and played with Oakland Active Orchestra, Krakow Improvisers Orchestra, in the duo Dokuro with the Norman Conquest, myrmyr with Marielle Jacobsons, and most recently in a duo with Kanoko Nishi-Smith. She has played with many notable improvisors in the US and abroad.
Agnes received her B.S. from Northwestern University in Radio/TV/Film and her M.F.A in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College, and currently produces media for UC Berkeley. She has always oscillated between or combined her visual and sound tendencies. In 2011 Agnes received a Fulbright grant to research performance and technology in Krakow, Poland. Agnes is a refugee from Poland, who escaped with her mother to camps in Austria during martial law. Eventually she and her mother immigrated to the US. The interdisciplinary nature of her work reflects her overall feeling of never really belonging to one place.
Agnes’ music has been hailed as “a distinctive voice in the electro-acoustic field” by Textura, and “gorgeous” by XLR8R. Her duo with The Norman Conquest, Dokuro, is described by THE WIRE as “discreetly sculptured.” Myrmyr her collaboration with Marielle Jakobson has numerous reviews for both albums with descriptions such as “soaring chamber compositions in perfect ambient space” by Boomkat.
I experiment and design in the convergent space between composition and improvisation, video and performance, and the material and immaterial. I explore the relationship between light and sound with the intention of challenging our perception or blending our senses. At the core of my process is experimentation: with electronics, instruments, projection, movement, fabric, and new technology to create a performance or to transform spaces, objects, and the human form. The content of my works oscillates between the visible and invisible, and the tension between noise and melody.
I use a design process that starts with concept and writing, involves research and a deep dive into a theme or concept, and is often collaborative in some way. The concept is the driving force for the process of creation, and the themes are woven into the final works in subtle ways. Ideally I’d like participants feeling like they had a new experience or sensation. While my themes shift with my expanding curiosity about our universe, my aesthetic is pretty consistent throughout all of my pieces. The texture and tones of my sound, the way that I treat light, the beguiling use of the body – these are the choices that connect all that I do.
When working with light I primarily use video projection and custom made LED lights. My sound world is expansive as I am a multi instrumentalist and electronic musician. Voice and cello are my root instruments and often make it into the layers of sounds. Movement has been an essential part of my work in recent years, expressed either in modern dance, or how I move with and create rhythm with instruments including the voice. The final work manifests in many different ways – as multimedia performances, electro-acoustic works, installations, and experimental video pieces. I like to work with and transform forgotten spaces and discarded objects.