Interdisciplinary artist LaMont Hamilton tells Alaska’s story through sound

Interdisciplinary artist LaMont Hamilton tells Alaska’s story through sound
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 8:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Living in Alaska, sound is everywhere — from glaciers calving to the sound of streams flowing.

What if you could capture it? What would it sound like? LaMont Hamilton is an interdisciplinary artist who uses sound recordings to tell a story at his exhibition at the Anchorage Museum. It’s called To Hear the Earth Before the End of the World.

Behind a black curtain at the museum is a dark room filled with monitors on each wall playing a collection of field recordings and hyper-modulated sounds, all captured by Hamilton.

“There’s a musical term and also poetry term that I’m very keen to call contrapuntal. So contrapuntal is basically taking two or more separate entities and bringing them together to form something else and I think that’s what I’m doing here,” Hamilton said.

When you enter the space, it’s not just about the visual — Hamilton wants you to experience something internal.

“I don’t want them to take away anything. I want them to uncover something within themselves,” Hamilton explained.

Hamilton’s inspiration for sound recordings can come from anywhere. He said oftentimes he’ll just find himself in a peculiar environment or pull off to the side of the road.

”Or there’s a very specific area in which I want to go to and I see what happens,” he said.

To him, he’s capturing Alaska’s story with his imagination.

“It’s a big place and it’s full with a lot of awe and wonder. Using our imagination really brings this place into another type of aliveness. That everyone who goes out into the bush encounters, you know, I’m interested in bringing that liveness into the forefront,” Hamilton said.

He also makes it a point to mix the sounds, therefore leaving it up to you for interpretation.

“The idea is not for precision. You know, it’s for ambiguity and that ambiguity, like I said, allows the imagination to fill in the blanks,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s exhibition is located on the fourth floor’s west wing at the Anchorage Museum. It will be on display through February of 2024.