No Music City, USA


Chalet Comellas-Baker’s work begins with existing media from archives or text and incorporates elements of collage to comment on a variety of cultural, social, and ecological issues. Comellas earned her MFA from Florida State University and both as a collaborator and an independent artist, her work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and fairs, including: LABspace, Hillsdale, NY, Goodyear Arts, Charlotte, NC; Albany Museum, Albany, GA; MoFA at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; ARTFIELDS, Lake City SC; P.S. Satellites: A Project of Prospect New Orleans, Lafayette, LA; Toronto Art Book Fair, Toronto CA; Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO; InLight, Richmond, VA; EYEDRUM Atlanta, GA; Flashpoint Gallery, D.C.; Grace Exhibition Space, Brooklyn, NY; Fountain Art Fair, Miami, FL; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL; Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL. She is currently the director and co-curator of Unrequited Leisure, an experimental artist run gallery in Nashville, TN, and teaches classes on time based media at Austin Peay State University.


The sound file and print edition that I have contributed for this portfolio captures the layered qualities of image and sounds existing within the biophony, geophony and anthrophony (animal, earth, and human) during several spring and summer days in Nashville, Tennessee, a city affectionately referred to as “Music City, USA”.

This project has been an exploration in acoustic ecology or soundscape studies, which are collections of data mediated through sound, between human beings and their environment. I began developing the idea for these layered sound recordings in the spring of 2019 and my goal had been to abstractly communicate ideas about the impact humans are having on loss of habitats for both native and migrating birds due to tourism and urban development. I had begun working on the structure of the composition well before the pandemic hit, and my plan was to visit several Country Music tourist attractions in Nashville and record bird song in the area while capturing the live music playing distantly in the background. When Nashville was faced with the safer at home order I optimistically told myself that at least I would have some uninterrupted time to work on my sound projects; however, as the time we were asked to spend at home lingered on, the streets of the city became more and more empty, and at that point a new theme began to emerge. It seemed that in the absence of live music the sounds of the animals, earth, and city became more amplified… no Music City. 

The five sound clip stems were recorded at locations near my home base in East Nashville, the Musician’s Hall of Fame, Third Man Records, The Bluebird Café, and The Grand Ole Opry. The Opry revealed the strongest analogy of nature taking center stage: I was able to capture the sounds of a gaggle of Canadian Geese that set up camp under a tree in the vast empty parking lot, as they bathed in a pothole filled with rainwater. The sounds layer, loop, and repeat in a systematic composition that leaves the listener to wonder what is real and what is imagined in this new acoustic landscape. 

The print edition to accompany this audio file is a digital print comprised of several layers: the first, a gold record to reference Nashville’s history of music and recording, followed by a few images of me in the cityscape taking field recordings. I placed these transparent layers atop a map of Nashville taken from E-bird, a crowd-sourced birdwatching data collection website hosted by Cornell Ornithology Labs. 


Instagram: @chaletcomellas