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Grains at Asian Art Museum

Duration: 25 mins I Excerpt: 5:36 mins

Performed at Asian Art Museum in Collaboration with Ian Smiths-Heisters

GRAINS is a multi media live performance that deals with expanding the sonic energy that resides in a single grain of sound. The performance explores the visual and sonic amplification of domestic food grains and their transformation to a collections of solid grains that flows like a liquid as they multiply. Layering her vocals on top of the flowing grains Surabhi weaves a rich tapestry of sounds, multiplied and fragmented, creating dynamic textures and immersive architectural soundscapes.

Vocals and electronics: Surabhi Saraf
Live camera and visuals: Ian Smith-Heisters

Video Documentation by Jenny Chu



Spinning Four, 2012- 2013

Duration: 20 mins I Excerpt 4:41
Performed @ Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai
17th Jan 2013

Video Documentation by Archit Patel
Live camera: Venkat
Video Programming: Diwaker Gupta

Duration: 25 mins I Excerpt 3:15 mins
Performed @ Currents 2012 The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
28th June 2012

Video Documentation by Robert Campbell
Lights and Live video assistant: Jonathan Cote
Video Programming: Diwaker Gupta

Duration: 20 mins I Excerpt: 4.30 mins
Performed @ SOMArts, San Francisco for Night Light
April 27th 2012

Video Documentation: Sebastian Alvarez
Live video & lights: Diwaker Gupta
Video Programming: Diwaker Gupta

From her memories of Indian classical music to the multiplicity of sounds emerging from old mechanical fans, Surabhi Saraf’s Spinning Four deals with the phenomena on which we all depend, wind and breath. As her memories of Indian classical music travel from her lungs to the microphone, she layers the sound of her voice over the droning percussion of the rotating blades of aged fans powered by electric motors. While fans are used most familiarly to cool people (as well as the machinery that surround us), Saraf uses them to accompany the uttered sounds of her vocal chords. Once on the air, these sound waves become electrical impulses and data that are manipulated through her laptop in real-time. However, Spinning Four is not only a sonic experience. Saraf also live-feeds the small fans as large video projections that, along her soundscapes, create a visual experience immersive enough to remind that everything is constantly spinning around us—perhaps as the omnipresent elementary particles that quantum mechanics describes. —Sebastian Alvarez



Spin, 2011

Duration: 18 mins I Excerpt 2:17 mins
Performed @ Currents 2012 The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
11th June 2012



TUNNELING, 2008- 2012

Collaborator: Nadav Assor

About the performance:

The visual narrative of “Tunneling” is defined through the process of cutting through the wall of the performance space from inside to outside, the different layers within the building wall slowly exposed until the outer, nighttime street is reached. This image is constructed in a live fashion through use of a green-screen setup, a specially constructed table and custom software which “memorizes” the appearance of each layer of material as it’s being cut. The audio narrative consists of a multitude of voices singing verses, which are at first multiplied by many thousands, and slowly decimate while the wall is exposed until only one, the real voice of the audio performer, is left when the street outside is finally reached. An additional layer of domestic cooking sounds is intertwined with the voices, juxtaposed with the sounds generated by the cutting of the wall-layers.

Performers: Surabhi Saraf- Live audio, Nadav Assor- Live video and objects

@ New Blood II, Links Hall, Chicago, 2008 
@ NETMAGE 10 International Live Media Festival, 2010
@ SOUNDWAVE ((5)) Humanities, the LAB, San Francisco, 2012




This live performance at Khoj, New Delhi, was an experiment of sorts in which compositions were created by recording, modulating, distorting and identifying rhythms and melodies out of the natural sounds of an aging fan. The intention is to create soundscapes through compositional re-structuring and amplification of sounds of objects around us, therefore hinting at the possibility of a subjective, surreal transformation of an everyday space.

The recorded tracks of the fan were mixed with amplified live sounds of the same from the installation space during the performance. The mono speakers played the live sounds whereas the stereo, the pre-composed ones. The space of the installation was defined by the position of the speakers, the volume levels and other effects such as channel pannings.  The idea being that the composition is absorbed and experienced as one moves around the premises: the audience is also an unaware but active participant in the whole set up. The experience of the person varies according to where he/she is positioned.

The cables,used to transmit the sounds forms another part of the installation. The cables connecting the speakers were arranged as drawings on the walls — visual web referring to the virtual sound web and leading to the “stage” of this performance: a room, where a video of sound waves were projected on to the fan, which is the generator of the whole installation. A closed loop of ideas.

Performed @ Khoj International Artist association as a part of the Peers’06 Residency