A Brief and True Report

Seven-channel sound installation created for Pump House Park, Richmond, VA

A Brief and True Report is a 7-channel sound installation created for the small quarry in Richmond’s historic Pump House Park. Speakers placed in the site’s natural amphitheater emit chromatic vocal lines and hammering sounds, evoking a simultaneously idyllic and unsettling atmosphere. To create these sounds, the artist recorded her own voice and the bridge in Pump House Park.

Woven into the musical piece are words from Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, a 1588 English manuscript which advertised the plentiful “merchantable commodities” and consumable natural resources of the New World, some of which are now endangered. This pamphlet was both an eyewitness account by a scientist and explorer and a marketing tool which played a significant role in the early English colonization of North America. Some of the words were written by Hariot in Carolina Algonquian, a Native American language which is now extinct.

Bouchard’s sound work evokes two landscapes that no longer exist:  the Edenic vision of Virginia from early European contact and the chunk of earth and stone that was removed from this quarry. In focusing on lost landscapes and lost languages, Bouchard’s work critiques the deep-seated history and ongoing practice of the overconsumption of American land and resources and the resulting displacement of peoples.

A Brief and True Report was presented in April 2018 as part of the Sound Arts Richmond festival.

High Water Mark

Mixed media installation with sound; dimensions variable. 2018.

A wall apparently stained by floodwaters doubles as a graph charting the highest level of the James River in Richmond, VA, each year going back to 1944. 

A transducer attached to the wall, heard best by pressing one's ear against the wall, conveys the sound of the artist singing each year in pitches which correspond to the graph.

Ocian in View!

Letterpress on paper. 11 3/4” x 14 1/2”. Edition of 20.

ocian-in-view-letterpress.jpg

Bouchard hand-typeset the lyrics of "Ocian in View" from her song cycle Songs of Lewis & Clark, arranging the text in a way that visually represents the melodic structure of the song. (As the melody goes up or down, the syllables are placed on higher or lower lines of type.) The resulting text treatment is reminiscent of a landscape. This letterpress piece was printed on a Vandercook press at The Center for Book Arts in New York, NY.

Songs of Lewis & Clark

17-part song cycle performed by the artist. Full run time: approx. 50 mins. Album released in 2008.

Performance of Songs of Lewis & Clark at The American Folk Art Museum in New York City, April 2009.

Performance of Songs of Lewis & Clark at The American Folk Art Museum in New York City, April 2009.

Songs of Lewis & Clark is a song cycle setting the journals of Lewis and Clark to music. With lyrics taken directly from the journals, the songs reveal moments of awe, reflection, humor and joy during the course of the 1804-1806 expedition through the newly purchased Louisiana territory.

Listen to the full album at music.sarabouchard.com. A special-edition CD is also available for purchase at Sara’s online store.

See also Ocian In View!, a letterpress print of lyrics from the song cycle.