January 30, 2020

Dear Akureyri Art Museum,

Please accept this application for consideration of the A! Performance Festival 2020.

I returned to the United States from Iceland on November, 3rd 2016. As I was re-adjusting from 3 months at Listhús in Olafsfjördur, jet-lagged and in the voting booth, I woke up the next day with a deep malaise not because of the results or the travel -- but a realization of a far worse and deeper problem. The only term that came to mind was the feeling of being "landless." In the months ahead, I created a new project based on this feeling and have called on collaborators from different parts of the world to assist in evolving the idea of being disconnected to identities of statehood. How does one illustrate this feeling sonically? This ongoing project examines that.

This past summer I took the project to the guest composer program at EMS in Stockholm. As my time in North Iceland served as a catalyst for this project, I would like to create a special piece for an intimate audience there. I am currently working with a few collaborators based in Iceland and the A! Festival would be optimal in revealing a
special phase of this project.

My proposal comes in two parts:
1). To create a place-specific live performance of new sounds paired with a vocalist (TBA) depending on acceptance. I would like the narration to be spoken or sung in Icelandic.

2). To explore the placement of related sounds within the city of Akureyri. This could mean placing several listening points around the city -- accessible via QR code -- that allow the audience sounds, stories and simple instructions at each “sound point.” This could be the sound of local or foreign ecosystems, ambient frequencies, human noise, etc. With brief instructions, the listener would be encouraged to engage with the sound work and contribute.

Optional: I would like to offer a workshop and a discussion around techniques and methods. The workshop would focus on exploratory relationships between landscape and sound through time-based structures such location recording exercises, listening and observation. Emphasis will be given to non-invasive recording techniques.
For each of the above proposals, I will have access to all necessary equipment that I will not already arrive with. I have some pending solo performance dates tentatively scheduled in Reykjavik and Olafsfjordur. I have included three links to my work that best illustrate the above ideas including collaborative live performances,
solo live performances and recording:

Example 1: Collaborative performance with Robert Pepper at Spectrum Brooklyn, December 21, 2019:

Example 2: Live recording at the Herring Era Museum, https://thomaswatkiss.bandcamp.com/album/siglufj-r-ur

Example 3: Collaborative sound recording (Landless, preview, 2019):

This document can be downloaded at: http://thomaswatkiss.net/iceland.pdf

Thank you!




I went to Iceland for nine weeks in 2016. I put everything in storage and found myself in the country a morning later to begin a season of writing and recording in the isolated village of Olafsfjordur, 6 hours north of Reykjavik.

Lodged with other artists and composers from around the world, I was inspired and able to focus on new recordings and am just now finally able to sort through the material.

The residency at Listhus was meant to be a short period of recalibration, but it has turned out to be a perrenial spring of material and inspiration in moving forward. I look forward to returning to continue what I started in that magical place just halfway across the ocean.


To the right is a brief photo-log of my settings during that time. Below are a few live recordings from some of the shows there.

Instagram: #icelandthatautumn | support




This recording was taken during the final performance show while in the North of Iceland. All of the sounds were completed during the two month residency. Recording date: October 30, 2016.

Bandcamp | Instagram



This recording was a place-specific synthesizer set for the Herring-Era Museum in a pictoresque village of Siglufjörður, a few kilometers from the residency. Recording date: October 20, 2016

Bandcamp | Instagram






Hjalteyri (live recording 10.30.16)

Several recordings were captured from this matinee show. The recording on the Bandcamp page was from a Zoom H4N placed in the rafters. The video clip was produced by Listhus.

Ampeg stack by Hjorvar Oli Sigurdson.

Mixing board by Michael Terren.

Photo by Gail Priest.

Bandcamp | Youtube live clip











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