The best lyrics of our time are precisely those that cannot be published.

— | Virginia Woolf

Olivia Louvel is a French-born British artist, composer, and researcher whose work draws on voice, computer music and digital narrative. Her work is presented in the form of sound recordings, live performance, sound art installations and video art. 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.

Louvel often operates at the intersection of creation and documentation with works such as: ‘LOL’ (2022), a site-specific sonic intervention reflecting the current state of political affairs in Britain, delivered through the public address system of Middlesbrough’s CCTV surveillance network; ‘Doggerland Channels’ (2022), a generative sound-relief based on the ancient land which once linked Britain to the continent, premiered at Phoenix Art Space for Sound Art Brighton; ‘The Sculptor Speaks’ (2020), a resounding of a Barbara Hepworth archival tape, premiered on Resonance Extra, and followed by an audiovisual version presented at The Hepworth Wakefield in 2021; ‘SculptOr’, a suite of nine pieces based on Hepworth’s extensive writings released as a digipak CD; ’The Whole Inside’ (2019), a generative sound mural exploring the violent misogyny of the Incels; ‘Not A Creature Of Paper’ (2019) a Louise Labé inspired composition for avant-garde ensemble Juice Vocal, premiered at Kings Place; ’Data Regina’ (2017), a multimedia suite based on Mary Queen of Scots’ writings through an interactive digital platform – Arts Council funded; and ‘Afraid of Women’ (2016), an audio-visual piece raising awareness for Rojava, the autonomous zone in Northern Syria.

‘The Sculptor Speaks’ was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in the Sound Art category at the Ivors Composer Awards 2020. ‘The Whole Inside’ was selected for the Longlist at the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021 and is published in the ‘Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology: Future Now.

Other awards and grants include: Henry Moore Foundation Research and Travel Grant (2022), Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Award (2021); Ithaca Prize runner-up (‘The Whole Inside’, 2019); Norman Cook Digital Music and Sound Arts Breakthrough Award (University of Brighton, 2018); Arts Council of England Grant for the arts (‘Data Regina’, 2016 and Beauty Sleep, 2014); Prix Ars Electronica shortlist (‘ō, music for haiku’, 2013); Qwartz Electronic Music Awards Qwartz Album Award (‘Doll Divider’, 2011); Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, composer prize (‘Doll Divider’, 2011).

Olivia Louvel is a PhD candidate (2021-) at the University of Brighton, investigating the interplay of voice and sculpture. Previously, she completed a MA in Digital Music and Sound Art from DMSA, University of Brighton. Her research on resounding the voice of Barbara Hepworth brought her to deliver a talk for the Yorkshire Sound Women Network and the Hepworth Research Network (2021). Her article ’A Generative Sound Mural, The Whole Inside: Sounding the body’ (2020) is published by Leonardo Music Journal, MIT Press.

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, RTE Lyric FM’s Nova, Radio Eins’s Elektro Beat, NRK’s Harald Are Lund, RTVE Radio 3’s Fluido Rosa, RTVE Radio 3’s Atmosfera, RAI 3’s Battiti, and France Musique’s La Matinale. She produced a mix for Electronic Beats /EB radio (2014).

In 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. Louvel has also opened for artists such as Eartheater at De La Warr Pavilion; Japanese avant-garde artist Phew at IKlectik; Planningtorock at Earsthetic Festival/ Brighton Dome; and Recoil for various shows on the European Selected tour (2010).

She has presented her work at Middlesbrough Art Weekender (2022); Phoenix Art Space (2022); The Hepworth Wakefield (2021); Chapter Arts Centre (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); ONCA gallery, Brighton Digital Festival, (Brighton, 2018); Iklectik (London, 2019); CTM, Kunstquartier Bethanien (Berlin, 2016); Le Cube (Issy-Les-Moulineaux, 2017, 2009); Earsthetic Festival, Brighton Dome (Brighton, 2013); Ososphere Festival (Strasburg, 2009).

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. She took part to the compilation in support of Pussy Riot’s freedom (2013) and to the female:pressure campaign – curated by Antye Greie-Ripatti – to raise awareness for Rojava (2016).

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).

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Fragments and pieces by Olivia Loubel used in the montage.