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About Andrew

Baltimore City

Andrew Paul Keiper is a sound artist based in Baltimore, Maryland, where he received his MFA from MICA's Photographic and Electronic Media program in 2016. His recent work explores listening and noise, the Manhattan Project, the Baltimore Uprising, and the frontier between sound art and experimental music. Andrew received his BFA in painting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2002. He has exhibited in Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington DC. In 2016 he was a... more

Note on my recent work

We are in a state of political and cultural turmoil. Our president embraces the foriegn autocrat accused of aiding his electoral success. This success, while seemingly abetted from abroad, was clearly marked by a broad domestic support founded on xenophobia, racism, distrust of elites and experts, and of those who uphold traditional democratic virtues and norms. These themes have compounded since the election, standing out more starkly with each lie and insult the president and his regime spew forth.

My most recent work takes the story of my grandfather as its entry point. During World War II he was an engineer who contributed to the Manhattan Project, bringing forth nuclear weaponry into the world. He was a man of many secrets, with far-left political associations, and who conducted multiple romantic liaisons outside of his marriage. My resolve to make work stemming from his story was born from my friendship with my frequent collaborator, Kei Ito, whose grandfather was in Hiroshima when the Americans dropped the first atomic weapon there at the conclusion of the war.

The story of the development of nuclear weapons and their legacy since WWII carry many of the same questions and shadows that we grapple with today. Secrecy, espionage, the threat of political extremists, the suppression of scientifically-informed understanding of world-threatening risks – these are but a handful of the resonances that ring out now as they did in 1945. Beyond the destructive technology it introduced, what is the bequest of this project, founded to resist the Nazis, by highly educated immigrant elites, suspicious of secrecy, and yet committed to the democratic system of their new home? What might we learn from their compromises and their awful mistakes? These questions are the backdrop of my art.

In my work I seek to establish sonic spaces and moods that evoke and elaborate the perils of that past era, and as well as our own. I hope that by doing so I might provoke the listener to engage in purposeful, attentive and critical listening as an act with political ramifications.

Ash Lexicon-Silverplate

This work is a collaborative installation by Andrew Paul Keiper and Kei Ito. Ito's grandfather was in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bomb attack, and went on to become an anti-nuclear activist. Keiper's grandfather was an engineer who contributed to the Manhattan Project. This work, Ash Lexicon-Silverplate was installed in the 2016 Young Blood exhibition at Maryland Art Place, in Baltimore, MD. The film canisters, 108 in number, are filled with ash from a burnt Japanese dictionary, identical to the one owned by Ito's grandfather, which was burned in the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. The audio considers the Silverplate series of B-29 bombers used in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including the Enola Gay and Bockscar.

Kei Ito's Baker Portfolio can be found here.

Niels Bohr 4

This two-channel sound based work contemplates the scientific and political career of Niels Bohr. A Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, Bohr's work was essential to the the growing understanding of atomic structure in the pre-war world, as well as the development of the atomic bomb during WWII. While Bohr was a part of both the British nuclear weapons program and later the Manhattan Project itself, he was a strong proponent of openness and sharing of information as part of a regime of arms control. He was prescient in understanding the arms race that would result from the secret development of the bomb.

This work was exhibited as part of the 2016 Sondheim Artscape Semi-finalist Exhibition.

REDACTIONS

This body of work contemplates the history of secrecy, espionage and counter-intellegence that was driven by the development of nuclear weaponry, and drove it forward in turn. It is comprised of a series of monochrome ink paintings on paper and sound recordings.

The ink works might be read as redactions, as one might find in a partially declassified document. At the same time, they can be read as depicting the processes of effects of nuclear weaponry. The two readings operate together as an uneasy palimpsest.

The audio recordings imagine an archive of SIGINT (signals intelligence) or surveillance recordings, presented without clarifying commentary. Hiss, hum and signal drop-out present the listener with additional obscurity to the already mysterious recordings.

Manhattan Project

This 5-channel sound-based work was prompted by the life of my grandfather, Lovell Cardenas. An engineer, Lovell helped to develop the first nuclear weaponry during World War II as an employee of the Manhattan Project. He was secretive about his work, as he was about much else in his life – Lovell was a communist working within the military industrial complex, and maintained romantic liaisons outside his marriage.

Manhattan Project seeks to evoke the creation of the atomic bomb from the perspective of an engineer, enmeshed in the defining political conflicts of his era. The droning of calutrons used to enrich uranium and the 44.4 second long free fall of the bomb find their place alongside propaganda, crooner Perry Como, and the Internationale in the soundscape of the piece.

Rough Ride

Rough Ride is an 8-channel sound-based work that weaves together sounds from the Baltimore Uprising following the killing of Freddie Gray by the Baltimore Police and audio culled from social and mass media, along with the sounds of police surveillance, control, and violence.

This piece folds the narrative of events over itself, playing the sounds of protest, politicians' awkward, tone-deaf speeches, the breathless, pro-police biased coverage of the media, and push back against it from fed-up community members alongside audio portraying the rough ride itself, putting the listener in the position of Gray inside the van. The sounds of the Uprising rise in intensity along with the vehicular sounds of the ride towards an overwhelming, cataclysmic crescendo. These sounds play out from six speakers on a 16 foot long shelf, offering no opportunity to hear and comprehend the entire sequence of events from any given position. The listener must choose what they will hear, and what they will avoid hearing. Above, the sound of the Baltimore Police Foxtrot helicopters unceasingly play from three speakers hung from the celling, a constant reminder of the surveillance state, and the violence that flows from it.

Overture (Hollow Earth)

Overture (Hollow Earth) is an 11 minute long sound-based work. It was composed by playing out a manipulated recording of radio static through a speaker in an ordinary room, and recording the pronounced effect of the room's acoustics on the original audio. The original and four recordings made in this room are mixed together in an otherworldly, vast sounding composition.

This piece was exhibited in the 2016 MICA Graduate 1st Year Juried Exhibition in installation form. The sound played out from studio speakers, in a tableaux that emphasizes the constructed nature of the piece, and puts the listener in the position of an audio engineer.