Olivia Louvel is a French-born British composer and artist whose work draws on voice, computer music and digital narrative. She operates at the intersection of creation and documentation, often taking for a point of departure, texts, poetry, archival and autobiographical documents. Her practice is built upon a long-standing exploration of the voice, sung or spoken, and its manipulation through digital technology, as a compositional method.
Her largest project to date, [Hepworth Resounds] (2020), is a multipartite sound art project based on British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The Sculptor Speaks is a resounding of a 1961 tape by Barbara Hepworth, premiered on Resonance Extra, and followed by an audio-visual iteration. The Sculptor Speaks was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in the Sound Art category at the Ivors Composer Awards 2020. The critically acclaimed album - SculptOr - is a suite of nine pieces based on Hepworth’s extensive writings.
With her generative sound mural The Whole Inside (2019), Louvel explored an explicit sociopolitical agenda: the violent misogyny of the Incels community. She was drawn to the potential of the Visaton piezo speakers to integrate the sound diffusion elements within the visual environment as a relief sculpture. Her article ‘A Generative Sound Mural, The Whole Inside: Sounding the body’ (2020) is published by Leonardo, MIT Press. The Whole Inside was selected for the Longlist at the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021, and published in the ‘Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology: Future Now.’
Latest commissions range from designing the sound vocabulary for pipetting robot Andrew+ by Andrew Alliance to conceiving a Louise Labé inspired composition for avant garde ensemble Juice Vocal, Not A Creature Of Paper (2019), premiered at Kings Place, London. Previously, Louvel explored the reigns of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I with the multimedia suite Data Regina (2017), delivering her own singular transposition through an interactive digital platform http://www.dataregina.com and a cd publication. In November 2018, she toured throughout the UK presenting a headline audio-visual set of Data Regina for ‘Synth Remix’, an event curated by Benjamin Tassie under Sound and Music's Composer-Curator scheme.
Awards include runner-up for the Ithaca Prize (The Whole Inside, 2019), the Norman Cook Digital Music and Sound Arts Breakthrough Award (University of Brighton, 2018), Grant for the arts from the Arts Council of England (Data Regina, 2016 and Beauty Sleep, 2014), shortlisted for the Prix Ars Electronica (ō, music for haiku, 2013) the Qwartz Album at the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards (Doll Divider, 2011).
Her work has been featured in The Wire, The Quietus, Electronic Beats, Fact Mag, Electronic Sound among others, and she was interviewed by Stuart Maconie for his BBC Radio 6 programme about her “compelling sculpture-inspired work” on Barbara Hepworth. Louvel has received extensive airplay on significant radio programs such as BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, BBC Radio 6’s Freak Zone, Resonance (UK), RTE Lyric FM’s Nova (Ireland), Radio Eins’s Elektro Beat (Germany), NRK’s Harald Are Lund (Norway), RTVE Radio 3’s Fluido Rosa, RTVE Radio 3’s Atmosfera (Spain), RAI 3’s Battiti (Italy), and France Musique’s La Matinale.
She has presented her work at venues and festivals such as Chapter Arts (Cardiff, 2020); King’s Place (London, 2019); De La Warr (Bexhill, 2019); Ikon Gallery (Birmingham, 2018); Anthony Burgess Foundation (Manchester, 2018); Spirit of Gravity (Brighton, 2017); Nawr (BBC Hall, Swansea, 2017); Documenta (Kassel, 2017); Brighton Digital Festival (2018, 2017); Iklectik (London, 2019, 2016); CTM (Berlin, 2016); Dear Serge (Bexhill, 2015); Culture Night (Dublin, 2015); Earsthetic Festival (Brighton Dome, 2013); Tri XL (Antwerp, 2010); Le Cube (Issy-Les-Moulineaux, 2009); Ososphere Festival (Strasburg, 2009); Electron Festival (Geneva, 2008).
Louvel has been an active member of female:pressure, the international network of female, transgender and non-binary artists in the fields of electronic music and digital arts. In 2013, she took part to the compilation in support of Pussy Riot’s freedom. In 2016, she contributed a compelling audio-visual Afraid Of Women to #Rojava, the female:pressure campaign curated by Antye Greie-Ripatti to show solidarity and raise awareness for the special de facto autonomous zone in northern Syria.
She has been associated with the label Optical Sound Records and Fine arts, run by French artist Pierre Beloüin, notably with the release of Lulu In Suspension (OS, 027, 2008), the sonic cruise Echos Flottants (Ososphere Festival, 2009, with Paul Kendall and Black Sifichi) and Acoustic Cameras (Le Cube, 2017, with Paul Kendall).