Luke Nickel (b. 1988) is an award-winning Canadian interdisciplinary artist and researcher currently living in Bristol, UK. He has recently finished a PhD at Bath Spa University under the direction of James Saunders. His work, which began in the field of music composition, now investigates notions of notation, re-performance, loss of fidelity, and memory. He has worked with ensembles such as EXAUDI, the Bozzini Quartet, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and collaborated with galleries and organizations such as the Panoply Performance Laboratory (Brooklyn, NYC), G39 (Cardiff), and the Arnolfini (Bristol). Additionally, he has received support from organizations such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Sound & Music.
Luke currently has two main strands of work. The first is centered around memory and the process of transmitting musical scores. In this practice, he aims to remove the concrete document of the score and relocate it to the unstable domain of the human memory. He does this by communicating all the parameters found in traditional scores in ephemeral means such as unrecorded conversations or temporary audio files. By rendering the score unstable, he allows forgettings, mis-rememberings, and transformations to permeate the very fabric of the musical material. In this strand, Luke works mostly with solo musicians and chamber ensembles such as EXAUDI, the Bozzini Quartet, Architek, Viva Voce, Mira Benjamin, Isaiah Ceccarelli, and Michael Baldwin. Examples can be heard the scores Made of My Mother’s Cravings and [factory].
The second strand of Luke’s work is focused on the notion of text as sound — or sound in text. In this stream of work Luke is developing spoken vocal quartets that examine traditionally musical qualities (such as proportion, silence, and density) while at the same time treating the text itself musically. Oftentimes the subject of the text is, in itself, musical. So far these works have taken the format of performances, installations, objects, and writings and have been presented at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bang the Bore concert series, and Bath Spa University. Examples can be heard in the pieces String Quartet #1 and White Fang Field Recording.
Luke is also an active curator, and currently co-directs the Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Cluster Festival is now in its tenth year, and has featured hundreds of interdisciplinary artists from across the world in innovative forms of presentation.