Arts Center as Instrument: Christopher Scully-Thurston’s Nighttime Audio Collage

As senior technician of venue and production management at Duke, Christopher Scully-Thurston often finds himself working in the Rubenstein Arts Center at night, installing and maintaining technical equipment for use by students and faculty in the morning. Now—with no in-person productions or rehearsals due to the COVID-19 pandemic—Scully-Thurston also finds himself alone in the Ruby in the evening, accompanied only by the building’s quiet stillness.

But is a space ever really silent?

Although Scully-Thurston moonlights as an arts professional at Duke, he is also a practiced sonic-dreamscape artist and soundtrack composer. Using percussion mallets with both ambient and close miking, Scully-Thurston collected sounds, vibrations, and pulses during his evenings in the Ruby. He then looped the audio he captured from the building to create form. The result is an audio triptych collage called No Conflick at the RAC, a piece which illustrates how the Ruby is still a space animated by the tones of art-making, even amid the silence and solitude wrought by a pandemic.

Tune into No Conflick at the RAC on November 19 from 9 to 9:30 p.m. via Radiophrenia.

No Conflick at the RAC will be broadcasted in the Rubenstein Arts Center at a date to be announced.

Christopher Scully-Thurston in 2020. By Jennifer Scully-Thurston.

About the Artist

Christopher Scully-Thurston is a sonic-dreamscape artist and soundtrack composer based in Raleigh, NC. He is also a senior technician of venue and production management at Duke University.

His score for After the Reign won “Best Performance Art” laurels from the prestigious Avalonia Festival. His sci-fi dance film Seuls Ensemble (Alone Together) was a hit at American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers. And After the Reign – Confusion was featured in Depict Film Festival 2019 in Bristol, UK.

Christopher conceptualized and recorded Empty Sound’s Koan 1, acclaimed by Downbeat Magazine as one of the decade’s best modern avant garde jazz albums.