Replenish: Victoria Shen

Plumbing The Reaches Of Inner Space by Victoria Shen


Sit in a comfortable position either between stereo speakers with good low end response or similarly with headphones capable of reproducing bass frequencies.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply while listening, visualizing the sounds propagating across your entire body.  Imagine the higher frequencies coupling with and ringing your small extremities, (fingers, toes, eyes, etc.) while the deeper frequencies resonate your head and the trunk of your body.  Imagine these frequencies shaking loose tensions and any residual crud sticking inside.  Let the interactions of the sounds with your body bring awareness to specificities, sensations, and parts of the body that are usually overlooked.  Let this intentional exercise in listening restore a sense of rootedness and presence within the body.

For the second iteration of Replenish, artist Victoria Shen examines the physical realm inviting the audience to contemplate and self-reflect.

Plumbing the Reaches of Inner Space is a composition meant to interrogate the nature of physical presence by using the inherent resonant frequencies of stringed instruments, the Halldorophone and an electric guitar, as well as analog synthesizer. Halldorophone, an instrument designed by Halldor Ulfarsson, somewhat resembles a cello with electronics and an extra set of sympathetic strings, but is not only played by traditional techniques like bowing and plucking, but by amplifying and feeding back the signal of the pick ups and speakers integrated into the instrument. The guitar is played not through physical contact but inductively by exposing its strings to oscillating magnetic forces. The swelling overtones and harmonics produced by these instruments are self-referential in that the instrument plays itself by self-resonating. These embodied sounds play off each other in stereo and the listener is invited to point their attention inward to experience the way sound can also resonate our spaces within.

About The Artist

Victoria Shen a.k.a. Evicshen is a sound artist, experimental music performer, and inventor based in San Francisco. Shen's sound practice is concerned with the materiality/physicality of sound and its relationship to the human body. Her music features analog modular synthesizers, vinyl/resin records, and self-built electronics. Shen's music eschews conventions in harmony and rhythm in favor of extreme textures and gestural tones.

Shen is notably the inventor of Needle Nails, acrylic nails with embedded turntable needles allowing her to play up to 5 grooves of a record at once. Shen's DIY approach extends beyond just instruments but also music releases. Her debut LP, Hair Birth, features copper album art that transforms the cover into a loudspeaker through which the record can be played. Recently, Shen has started releasing hand-made resin records embedded with found materials, each piece functions not only as playable music media but as unique art objects.


Our remote summer series, Replenish will present five artist-designed soundscapes that encourage listeners to take a break and take a breath. Replenish is organized by Emily A. Garner, Senior Manager, Campus and Public Programs, MIT List Visual Arts Center. Artist creating the series' prompts include: Jules Gimbrone, Victoria Shen, Darrin Martin, Lia Chavez, and Naama Tsabar.

Practicing mindfulness allows us to experience art and experience the world slowly and without distraction. As many move swiftly back to the speed of life post-pandemic, more and more artistic practices are calling in these ideas around mindfulness. With a diverse compilation of sound experiences, each artist offers a unique take on what it means to replenish oneself, emphasizing the importance of self-care.

A new iteration of Replenish will be released on the List Center website every other Wednesday, from July 12 to September 6, 2023. Participants are invited to engage with the programs asynchronously throughout the season. Visit the program page to learn more about the series.