Chelsea Leventhal

Psychoanalysis of Fire

6-channel sound installation with infrared light. Commissioned by Kulturforum Witten for the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik.
2018
Psychoanalysis of Fire (2018) is a multisensory, multichannel sound installation that draws on Gaston Bachelard's book of the same name. Bachelard examines fire as a source of fear and fascination, a symbol of life and death, something both intimate and universal, and perhaps most essentially as the “first object of reverie, the symbol of repose.” The composition focuses on the acoustic byproducts of combustion, deeply ingrained in the human experience yet consistently either overlooked or extremely fraught in contemporary society. These sounds are echoed by recordings of extended instrumental techniques that reconstruct the spatial and timbral qualities of a slowly dying bonfire. Employing heat and light from infrared sources, the piece considers the anthropological context and social connotations of fire and flame. Fire is examined not as a chemical process, but as a psychosensory construct.