Jeff Hylton Simmons
Sound Engineer, Owner Blackbird Farm, Radio23 Founder, Big Thinker and Dreamer
My favorite thing about art is that it is transportive. Music is the heaviest on my heart or the art that can transport me the fastest. Whether it is visual or oral or theater, just the fact that it takes you away—and not always to the place the artist wants you to. Music is definitely the one that does it the most for me.
Sometimes it does take you to a safe place. Specifically, music is the type of art that can send you to a familiar spot where you can feel safe—I know this place, I know this song, I know this album.
I learned early on with theater and my love for movies, I just love to go on that journey.. Quite often there is some kind of conduit between the artist and the audience in any given medium. For me it’s microphones and cables, for a painter it’s a canvas and museum. My favorite part is that space where the audience member transports whether it is on headphones walking down the street or in the museum. You know, the variety of different places where it can happen, that is my favorite part. Just being able to stop being yourself as an audience member.
As an artist at the same time, I really love, specifically with sounds and mixing sounds together. I spend a lot of time trying to create this perfect audible space that someone else can have a transformative experience in. But I have to say, that I feel like I almost enjoy being transported by another artists more than I enjoy doing it myself. I definitely enjoy it, but it is an interesting place that you get into that includes a lot of narcissism. A lot of the best artists are transparent in that narcissism in the sense that they are not spending a lot of time saying “Look at me! Look at me!”, they are just so engaged with whatever their given medium is that they just have to do it. I think that is when it is the best for me—when the artist, in the theater world we called it indicating, when I was in school, when the artist is stepping outside the art and indicating the performance experience is in. But my favorite type of art is when that doesn’t exist and the audience and the artist just go to a totally different place.
I love when I go see a live performance of an artist and everything else just goes away. I’ve never really spent a lot of time about being an audience member, but I don’t think a work of art is finished until it is received. I don’t think until it is transmitted to someone else is it really a piece of art.