Russell Haswell

The projects of the British Multidisciplinary Artist Russell Haswell challenge the aesthetics of art and sound art. Haswell uses generative audio software to create audio so physical as to provide a collapsing sculptural-like experience. His roots go straight back to the era of industrial sounds, of groups such as Einstürzende Neubauten to Napalm Death, when popular music was at its most radical peak, but also to the conceptual art group Art & Language that was founded in the middle of the 1960s at the Art Faculty in Coventry, which he also attended. Haswell has toured and performed as a ‘Hard-Disc-Jockey’ with Autechre, Aphex Twin, Whitehouse, and live improvised concerts with Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Peter Rehberg, Mika Vainio, and Manheim original drummer of Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem.

Haswell refutes the melody and seeks the fundamental nature of the sound. Still, he doesn't leave the nature of the sound untouched. His radical and un-compromising sound art is an acoustic zone, free from all mainstream pop influences. He plays with sounds like the Dadaists were playing with words. Like them, he decomposes meaning and logic in order to give a more truthful perception of a deceptive reality. Haswell usually describes the aim of his art as that of attacking everything that is cosmetic or smooth and to welcome what is dangerous and inconvenient. For Haswell, the act of creation is about risk taking and a destabilisation of safe positions. His audience risks losing control, losing perception of time and space, and perhaps even getting lost in the tones of deeply ambiguous yet absorbing sounds. Haswell’s sound-image becomes a private sphere disconnected from the suggestive images provided by mass media, far away from the popular idea of ‘bringing people together’.

With his sound Haswell produces a huge temporary public sculpture. He has no interest in the mass hallucinations of the entertainment business. He shows his audience that there is a long distance between hearing and comprehending what you hear. But it is exactly that distance which enables attraction.

By Sinziana Ravini


"The Brutal Truth" (2002) (10min DVD, LCD screen, 12 khz bug device)
(2003 AGAINST ALL EVENS, 2nd Gothenburg Biennial, Göteborgs Konsthall, Gothenburg)