Greg Mason Burns

Collaboration: Zaratan by Greg Mason Burns and Daniel Gawronski


Daniel’s Trees, as drawn simply by me as a visual example

I recently did a residency in Lisbon, Portugal and while there I met the other artist-in-residence, Daniel Gawronski. Daniel is an Australian artist who works primarily with sound art. His method is interesting in that he takes images from the natural environment and uses those to map musical compositions. We both attended the residency at Zaratan Arte Contemporanea in Lisbon, but this collaboration was an accident.


For the audio, Gawronski used a photograph of trees from a forest Sintra, Portugal, outside Lisbon, to create a music scale. Trees that were close represented low notes and trees that were in the distance represented high notes. The distance between the trees represented the length of time the note would be carried. He then took samples of Lisbon Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues‘ work and plugged these samples into the scale to create the actual sounds. It is very fitting, too, that the Amalia Rodrigues Museum is located directly across the street from Zaratan. 

I created the video based on a whim, and I wasn’t thinking of a collaboration when I did so. I filmed it in the sound-stage area at Zaratan when no one was in there. 

This was my first time doing a serious collaborative piece, and it was interesting how it all played out. I didn’t sit down to collaborate with him. It just happened, and that’s what happens when you spend time with other artists. Eventually simple conversation turns into collaborative art. Video art is far from what I would expect to do. I saw an opportunity, and I took it, and Daniel also liked the result as well. We did very little editing. I simply showed him the video and he really liked it. Collaboration at work.