Eli Kahn doesn’t consider himself a visual artist.
However, the longtime local musician currently has an exhibit open through July 3 at the South Bend Museum of Art.
“I like creating spaces that have a feeling to them,” Kahn says. “I think my music is based on trying to present a feeling, so I wanted to do that with some visual component.”
He released the solo album “How Are You? No, Really … How Are You?” in 2021. While he was working on it, Kahn began collaborating with an engineer in the field of art installations to turn his album into an immersive audio-visual experience, something he had done a few times in the past, starting with 2018’s “STRT/SLCT” with Saint Mary’s College art professor Krista Hoefle at The Birdsell Project in South Bend and, most recently, “Portal to a Better Dimension” in South Bend’s Pier Park with visual artist GIIIVENS.
Public art:Optical illusion, music to replace tunnel’s ‘blight’ at Pier Park in South Bend
‘A cool presentation’
For this project, Kahn spearheaded the design and presentation surrounding his music. In the past, he considered himself to have full control over his music, and the art was the next logical evolution of his projects.
Album release:South Bend musician Eli Kahn uses the pandemic to make his first solo record
He says that although he can’t paint a painting, the mood of his digital art is enough to make an impact compared to traditional art.
Stepping into the installation, the music seems to move around you, using the depth of the instruments to pull the viewer into the album.
“It’s a cool presentation of a project that I hadn’t really written for this specific medium, but now it’s coming through and given it a new life,” Kahn says.
‘It’s like the anti-Spotify’
Although you can listen to the album in his current exhibit on Spotify, in the future, Kahn wants to write music that is specific to this immersive system and to release the music only as part of the exhibit.
Outdoor Adventures:What you need to know about e-bikes: 3 kinds, who rides them and local regulations
“It’s like the anti-Spotify,” he says. “Right now, music is so quickly consumable that you can think of a song and listen to it five seconds later, but I want people to come to the space that I have made for them to check out. It’s very intentional and I think it makes it a more meaningful connection with it than if your attention is commodified to, ‘I want to find this in five seconds’ or ‘I heard the hook, I’m done with it.’”
‘More intentionality about the shows’
Kahn graduated from Indiana University South Bend in 2010 with degrees in both classical guitar performance and music theory and played in the bands sobriquet and The B.E.A.T. before forming his current band, the “head nod jazz duo” After Ours.
Head nod jazz:After Ours releases ‘Up Late’ EP
While on a tour with After Ours, he found a great music community in Asheville, N.C., and recently moved to the Southern town to be more ingrained with the scene there.
“Out in (Asheville), I haven’t been doing my own music,” Kahn says. “Typically I’m in my own band doing my own music, but I have been in a lot of other people’s bands doing a lot of different music. They have an amazing funk scene, which I didn’t know up until going there a few years ago, but I love getting to play old classics with these amazing musicians. There’s a different pedigree of artists there.”
What’s happening:From a ‘Big Shot’ to the Fringe, 5 things to do in or near South Bend this weekend
But he also wants to delegate his time artistically.
“I’m looking to perform a little less than I have in the past years with more intentionality about the shows being really cool and less so about ones I need to make a living from,” Kahn says. “I would really like to continue all the things I’m doing in the capacity I’m capable of doing. I want … to keep working with my band when it’s logical because we’re in different places.”
‘I’ll always have roots here’
Even in Asheville, though, he knows the South Bend area is somewhere he can call home to his art.
“I’ll always have roots here,” Kahn says. “I feel like the timing of when I left was right after I was commissioned to write a piece for the South Bend Symphony Orchestra … I have gotten to do some things I was glad I stuck around for, but I’m looking forward to seeing what is out there for me in Asheville and beyond. I’ll always come back here. I have family here and all my friends are amazing artists that I would love to stay connected to, but it’s really nice to go out and do other stuff, too.”
Local orchestra, local composers:Seurat’s ‘Sunday’ painting subject of concert at Notre Dame
• What: “Eli Kahn: How Are You? No, Really … How Are You?”
• Where: South Bend Museum of Art, 120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., South Bend
• When: through July 3
• Hours: noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays
• Cost: Free
• For more information: Call 574-235-9102 or visit southbendart.org.