Ava Grayson has a solid history of involvement in experimental listening practices, environmental awareness from a sonic perspective, and facilitating events that brings these elements together.
She has led many community-based gatherings, including graphic scoring workshops, soundwalks in both Canada and Finland, and organised events and workshops with playful objectives (such as 'Experimental Instruments for Non-Humans').
Her current teaching is broad. Within her lectureship at the University of the Arts Helsinki, her regular courses vary from lectures on the history and long-term trends within the field of sound art to hands-on projects and exhibits to discussion and experimentation classes.
Despite her broad pedagogical abilities and interests, the topics dearest to her heart are those that touch on the sonic elements of ritual, embodiment and sound, and practices with a healthy dose of irrationality.
You can read a small article here about one of Grayson's regular classes at Uniarts (in Finnish).
In the autumn of 2015, Grayson, yoga practitioner Reeta Partanen, and producer Heta Kaisto began an ongoing series and practice called Äänijooga (sound yoga). Based on an amalgamation of preexisting practices like Nada Yoga and Sonic Meditation, it is a new form in which sound (produced through a multi-speaker interactive environment) and movement work to mutually reinforce each other. This creates a unique, in-depth experience of what it means to listen and move.
Over 100 participants have experienced Äänijooga, and the series continues as a way of bringing people together from various local communities in a thoughtful, playful way.
Äänijooga was also developed into Grayson's Master’s thesis at Aalto University, which can be viewed here. For more information about this practice, please visit Äänijooga’s official site.
From April 2–7 2019, Sound On was an installation placed in the atrium of Ateneum (Finnish National Gallery) with the aim of increasing awareness and discussion around depression. The work was made possible by Janssen Oy, Miltton Oy, the Confederation of Mental Health, and Ateneum. The installation’s sonic elements were composed by Grayson, and the interactive light installation was built by media artists Alex van Giersbergen and Marloes van Son.
“There is maturity and courage in the ability to accept depression as an experience that we or someone we love may go through one day. We all know someone who has been affected by depression at some point in their lives, whether we realise it or not.
As with many other difficult life situations, communication, empathy, and support are the only ways that we can transcend an affliction like depression, transforming it into a source of learning, connection, and meaningfulness.” - Ava Grayson
Grayson worked as assistant and collaborator for nearly 2 years with fellow artists Ariel Bustamante and Ari-Pekka Leinonen. The project, entitled 'Why Do We Do the Things We Do?' was built through Bustamante's residency at Aalto University.
Inside, this large-scale sound installation was a space to dialogue and listen with those who came to share their time with us. Outside, the installation acted as a large speaker that projected excerpts of these dialogues.
This installation facilitated over 100 conversations with visitors and members of the local community during its one-month run in Kampintori, Helsinki, and resulted in a book publication through Aalto Books.
From January to June of 2017, the event series 'Magic Mondays: Electric Sound Meditation' was active within the Helsinki spaces Temporary (Kallio) and Oranssi (Suvilahti). These playful sound meditations were hosted by a different sound artist or experimental musician each time, and were a non-conventional guided sonic/musical meditation put together for the purpose of redefining the meaning of listening and meditating. All members of the Helsinki community were able to participate, and artists who hosted the sessions came from a very broad range of backgrounds.
The Lifts and Wakes of Flying Snakes was a piece commissioned by fellow female electronic music artist Norah Lorway, promoting female artists. All proceeds from this compilation are donated to Birmingham and Solihull Women's Shelter.
The track itself was premiered at miniBeast, a concert held yearly in Birgminham. The setup was for 100 speakers, and the entire piece was programmed to be a self-running live performance. The programming was done entirely in MAX 6.
Passio Musicae Open Source was an interactive audio installation and sonification of the Sibelius Monument exhibited in Ateneum, Helsinki from January-March of 2015. The sounds created used the physical dimensions of the monument's 569 steel tubes. By moving around in the gallery space, visitors would trigger the tubes, thus playing the installation with their bodies.
As well as being exhibited at Ateneum, the project was displayed as a demo at ISEA2015 in Vancouver, Canada.
Grayson designed the sound of the instrument and elements of the sound interaction with fellow sound designer Jairo Acosta Lara.
Credits: Lukas Kühne, Matti Niinimäki, Jairo Acosta Lara, Ava Grayson, Karina Jensen, Narim Lee, Sébastien Piquemal, Taavi Varm, Pirkka Åman.
Passio Musicae Open Source
Working as sound and interaction designer with artist Timo Wright and programmer Matti Niinimäki, we implemented a virtual forest inside an elementary school hallway in Aurinkolahti, Helsinki.
The 6-speaker installation reacts to human presence over time, shifting through seasons and different kinds of weather. The installation encourages children to interact and focus by revealing more magical layers of sounds the longer their presence is detected.
A short video commissioned by the University of Oulu. The visual designers are BeigeHarmaa, for whom Grayson is often hired as sound designer.
The visual logo was redesigned and unveiled in January of 2016. This video was premiered at the unveiling ceremony.
more sound samples
Grayson has a broad range of sonic interests and musical backgrounds. From organising sound walks and beginner's workshops in listening practices, to creating ongoing äänijooga events, to composing both chamber and electroacoustic works in her free time, her efforts toward cultivating and contributing to the fields of sound and music are constant.