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James Allister Sprang: Aquifer of the Hum + Aquifer of the Ducts

Submitted on May 3, 2021 - 12:21pm
Still image from Aquifer of the Ducts by James Allister Sprang
James Allister Sprang, still image from Aquifer of the Ducts, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.


May 15 + 16, 2021 @ 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm

Merrill Theater at On the Boards, Reservations

Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist James Allister Sprang brings his work to Seattle on May 15 and 16, 2021, with the premiere of Aquifer of the Hum, a newly commissioned 10-minute sound meditation. The piece will be presented with screenings of his 2020 work Aquifer of the Ducts, a 40-minute soundscape of layered tape recordings and modulated synths accompanied by dance. These screenings are presentations through a collaboration between Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Northwest Film Forum, and On the Boards, and each screening will be followed by a Q&A between Sprang and Vivian Hua, Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum. Make your reservation.

The two works, which draw from naturally occurring underground stores of fresh water, invite audiences to listen deeply, which is “a radical action that allows us to slow down, turn inward, and heal,” Sprang says. “Deep listening consciously brings awareness to the present moment while welcoming our bodies, our ancestors, our traumas, our pain, our longings, visions, and dreams.” Both pieces feature vocalist Starr Busby, and they are edited by audio engineer Brendan McGeehan.

Aquifer of the Hum was commissioned as part of Lux Aeterna, a year-long project exploring the ways media production and presentation platforms shape our values and perceptions over time. A collaboration between the Jacob Lawrence Gallery and Northwest Film Forum, the project began in summer 2020 as a research platform commissioning more than 10 artists and showcasing performances, workshops, talks, and essays. Lux Aeterna, meaning a light that refuses to be extinguished, culminates in summer 2021 with a multimedia exhibition at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

“It is a great honor to share James Allister Sprang’s work with Seattle audiences for the first time,” says Emily Zimmerman, Director + Curator of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. “After a traumatic year where many of our normal in-person activities have been forced online, James’ work offers a meditative space for healing. It offers us an opportunity to safely engage collectively once again, to center deep listening, connection, reflection, and solace."

Aquifer of the Ducts premiered in 2020 via Zoom as part of Philadelphia’s FringeArts Fringe Festival, which commissioned the work. The screenings at On the Boards mark the first time the piece screens for an audience in a shared physical space.

These screenings are part of Murmurations, a Seattle-wide arts collaboration that will present a series of multidisciplinary projects beginning in May. Murmurations takes its name from the flight patterns of starling birds, whose survival depends on collective movement, and emerged in 2020 as cultural organizations worked to find new structures for engaging and presenting creative practices to the public during the pandemic. The project is spearheaded by Frye Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Northwest Film Forum, On the Boards, and Velocity Dance Center, and it continues through December 2021.

Plan Your Visit

The Merrill Theater at On the Boards can accommodate ten groups of up to three individuals for each of the screenings. Please arrive a few minutes prior to the screening start time and wear a mask for your visit. All patrons will be asked to sign the On the Boards COVID building use agreements and consent to having their temperature taken. View directions and parking information.

About James Allister Sprang

Based in Philadelphia, Sprang tells stories informed by Black radical and experimental traditions. For the past 15 years, he has sustained a multidisciplinary practice with the understanding that storytelling is at the foundation of all disciplines. He has built relationships with communities and audiences through experimental theater, sound art, conceptual art, performance art, poetry and spoken word, cutting through segregated stories, timelines, archives, and imaginations. Sprang has completed several domestic and international residencies and has also presented his work at The Public Theater, Baryshnikov Art Center, Vox Populi, Abrons Arts Center, The Apollo Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, Knockdown Center, Pioneer Works, Painted Bride Art Center, and The Kitchen.

About Northwest Film Forum

Northwest Film Forum incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences. An independent film and arts nonprofit located in Seattle, Northwest Film Forum incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences. Each year the Forum presents hundreds of films, festivals, community events, multidisciplinary performances, and public discussions. A comprehensive visual media organization, the Forum offers educational workshops and artist services for film and media makers at all stages of their development.

About On the Boards

On the Boards supports artists from the Northwest and beyond through new commissions and existing work presented online and in person. It provides local artists with residencies that include rehearsal space, development support, project management, dramaturgical and curatorial feedback, and advocacy to create new and exciting projects. OtB’s publishing platform,, is a one-of-its-kind portal that features HD performance films and contextual educational material to deepen audiences’ understanding of the field of contemporary performance.