Art addresses pandemic isolation
BRATTLEBORO - “Sonic Blanket,” a multimedia, audiovisual art piece addressing the themes of isolation, community, history, and place, made its debut on Sunday, December 19, at midnight on WVEW Brattleboro Community Radio and will be broadcast nightly at this time for one year. Local artist Jonathan Gitelson, local poet Weston Olencki, and sound artist Diana Whitney have collaborated for the past year and a half on a radio project interweaving poetry, music, and local field recordings.
The idea for Sonic Blanket was born during the early days of pandemic lockdown, while Gitelson was walking through his neighborhood in Brattleboro. The glow of lights inside all the houses felt at once comforting and melancholy, hinting at the fear and isolation experienced by the people within. Seeking to create a connecting and nurturing way to offer healing to everyone in those homes, Gitelson contacted Whitney and Olencki to begin a collaborative process that has continued for the past year and a half.
Gitelson, a former WVEW board member and DJ, identified community radio as a compelling medium for the project because of its hyper-localized nature. The invisible blanket of sound waves emitting from the tower of WVEW on the Winston Prouty Campus extends roughly 10 miles in every direction. This “sonic blanket,” or listening area, became the literal and metaphorical framework for the collaboration. All of the artists live and work within these boundaries, and used it as inspiration for the work that they made together.
In addition to the 15-minute radio piece, there will be a year of Sonic Blanket programming, including an exhibition at the Vermont Center for Photography, consisting of artworks that are still in development; monthly listening parties at Epsilon Spires; public installations; and the invitation for local listeners to post images and connect through social media. Each event will be held within the boundaries of the blanket, encouraging people to visit our town and experience the various aspects of the collaboration.
Sonic Blanket is a public artwork that serves the greater Brattleboro region and celebrates its interconnectedness and resilience as a community, despite the isolation it has endured during the past year and a half. For more information visit www.sonicblanket.org or on Facebook at @SonicBlanket and Instagram at @sonic_blanket.