Our first interview of March is with The Scarlet Sound's Taylor Lampton. Her publication began as a New Brunswick, New Jersey, adaptation of the Santiago en Cien Palabras project and has grown into an e-journal. Let's see what she has to say...
1. The Scarlet Sound, huh? Tell us that's closer to a "blue note" than it is "the brown note."
Well the sound in question certainly does not cause any involuntary movements other than a smile here and there. The Scarlet Sound is defined as the sum of individual heartbeats coming together as one through artistic community. Rather than a specific kind of "note" I would argue in favor of a "beautiful cacophony." Like any great symphony, this sound brings seemingly unrelated, clashing sounds and rhythms together creating one sound -- a sound of beauty. The opportunity for those sounds to combine and become a cohesive unit leads to the beauty. The Scarlet Sound is both the name of the sound we look for, the summation of those heartbeats, and it is the opportunity for those heartbeats to come together.
2. Your journal publishes poetry, short fiction, humor, film, visual art, and photography. That's quite a wide swath of art to choose from. What sort of unifying elements are you looking for?
We tend to look for pieces, no matter the genre, that expose the heart of the artist. It's not about a particular theme. It is about expression and recognition. What does that mean in terms of what you'll see on our pages? It means that you'll find the work of real people and not those people who write flowery words for the sake of self-worship or the "artistic" photographs that make no sense to someone who hasn't "gotten it" from extensive study of "the field." Our artists are recognized by showcasing their heartbeats, and we hope that our artists can then appreciate hearing from all the different kinds of artists we have in our community.
3. Could you explain a bit more about the South American movement that you mention you're trying to connect to in the publication?
Sure thing! There are a few examples, but I'll explain Santiago en Cien Palabras (Santiago in 100 Words). The goal was to have the people of Santiago, Chile write 100 words or less about the town, their thoughts, stories, whatever. These pieces were then compiled into these booklets that were free reading material for the public transportation system in the city. A person could pick one up and read it while on the metro and then drop it off at their stop or take it home for a bit. It was a hit! The experience let the people of the city provide art for other people in the city, bolstering an appreciation of the arts and providing a community identity.
The Scarlet Sound originally got its start at Rutgers University, which happens to have the largest transportation system in a University in the States. It just made sense to unite an underground artistic community with the Rutgers ideas of tolerance and recognition. We even had the bus system! Throughout time, The Scarlet Sound has taken on a new face as an entirely online arts publication and is now even open to the general public. We took the idea that art creates community, coupled that with our first home's values, and now we have the publication we have today.
4. Let's shift gears to haiku and linguistics, since we do the former and you do the latter. Why isn't syllable-counting in English the same thing as syllable-counting in Japanese?
Well without boring your readers with some intense linguistics, I can say that some languages permit some things to happen while others don't. For instance, in English we can say words that start with the sounds "st" like in "stop sign." Spanish, however, does not allow that and you'll find native Spanish speaker's accents include sayings like "estop sign" to take care of that. This same kind of rule applies to Japanese. It doesn't allow a bunch of consonants to be strung together without having vowels. The word "strength" then is totally not okay in Japanese. Japanese speakers would have to say that as "strengethah." So "strength" is one syllable in English, and at least three in Japanese. Tada! Hope that made sense.
5. You mention a belief that "art can create community." What does "community" mean in the digital age?
Something I absolutely love about the digital age is that community doesn't just mean who lives next to you. It has to do with what you do and what you love. Your community can be as small as a group of close friends and as large as the entire world! The Scarlet Sound's community of artists that have been published have come from all over the United States, which is awesome. Isn't it awesome that we get to choose our community now with how we choose to be involved with technology? I can make friends via twitter in New Zealand or publish an artist in Hong Kong. The globe is a super small place now, and that means community gets to take up more and more geographical space. In the end, I hope our community at The Scarlet Sound can network with their fellow artists and learn how their community works even when spread out all around the world.
TAYLOR LAMPTON is a student and Linguist, though many times those overlap. The Scarlet Sound embodies one of her greatest passions by utilizing creativity and the arts to foster community. Though primarily a scientist and a ridiculously involved undergraduate student, she enjoys writing, photography, and video editing. Taylor is an award-winning public speaker and speech writer and was also recently published in the High Coup Journal.