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Cat Pose

By Sonnenzimmer & Coupler​ 

Cat Pose recording session at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. Nadine Nakanishi is pictured. 

[ ID: Nadine plays an electric piano in the center of a sun drenched room. She is surrounded by microphones and cassette tape players. Each cassette player plays a cassette tape loop. ]

Coupler is the creative practice of composer, producer and writer Ryan Norris. Originally established in 2011 as a solo project, Coupler has since become a vector for Norris’s collaborations as he expands or contracts the size of his group, reworks the music of others, collaborates with visual artists and scores films. Because of Norris’s background in music, Coupler’s work has primarily centered around musical composition but sound art and text have begun to play increasingly central roles.

Cat Pose is an exploratory, collaborative, audio-imaging work by Sonnenzimmer (Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi) and Coupler (Ryan Norris) sparked by a collective interest in the nature of audio loops.


The origin of the project was inauspicious. A question was posited: “what is a loop?”. From that seed a forest of conversations, ideations, and iterations sprang. The process began in earnest with a photograph of Ryan’s cat, Jericho, with the intent of creating a sonic impression of him using a series of audio loops. Based on this photo, a graphic score was developed, 33 equidistant “slices” demarcated from top to bottom. Any section of Jericho’s body within a slice was visualized by an ellipse—a loop—as a graphic representation of the distance around a particular part of his body.


As imaginative as this all may sound, it is only the beginning of the story—a step into the unknown. What Cat Pose actually is can be difficult to parse. There is sound, yes, and text, too. A collaborative essay unpacking the parallels between image and sound wraps around the exterior of the LP cover. Perhaps it is most accurate to call Cat Pose a tone poem, or “tone parallel” as Duke Ellington might say. Cat Pose asks questions but only alludes to answers. It is a meditation on the nature of temporal versus non-temporal art (which, when you think about it…). It interrogates Schrödinger’s famous cat experiment through the lens of a very real, very blind cat, and imagines a conversation the legendary physicist might have had with Jean Piaget about object permanence. Cat Pose is playful, but takes itself seriously. Cat Pose is motion and stasis in balance, an un-concluded interrogation of the twinned nature of time and space, of image and sound. The answer to this interrogation is a black hole whose presence is nowhere and whose effects are everywhere. Cat Pose denies the conclusion but accepts finality. It is a holistic, transparent, creative act; stating the question, performing the answer, and providing a format to revisit both.

Sonnenzimmer is the collaborative practice of artists Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi. Their work investigates and challenges the preconceived notions of the graphic arts. Their experimental studio was established in 2006 in Chicago. Together, they explore the physical, and psycho-physical nature of visualization through image-making, sculpture, writing, publishing, exhibitions, design, and music. They move through an array of media to triangulate and share a lived understanding of graphic expression. By inhabiting and bending formats through our graphic agencies, we all share the stakes of the mediated worlds that we inhabit.

Picture of Jericho
Yellow Cat

Jericho (RIP) with our graphic score overlaid.

[ ID: A cat named Jericho is pictured in profile. He is standing still but looks alert. Animated yellow ellipses circle his body, mimicking his form. ]

Ryan Norris, Nick Butcher, Nadine Nakanishi Group Photo
Cat Pose Animated Gif

(from left to right) Ryan Norris, Nick Butcher, and Nadine Nakanishi. 

[ ID: Three closely grouped and tightly cropped individuals point directly towards the camera. A digital animation of a cat floats above the picture, making it appear as if they are trying to touch the animated cat. ]

Cat Pose LP Cover

(background) A shot put is rolled across a wooden floor at Experimental Sound Studio. The sound was captured as a an audio "calibration" of the room and is used throughout the Cat Pose record.  (forground) The Cat Pose LP. 

[ ID: A heavy metal ball, a shot put, slowly rolls across a wooden floor. On top of this image is a photo of the Cat Pose LP sleeve. ]

Cat Pose LP Cover Backside
Cat Pose LP Spread

Cat Pose LP back cover and inner sleeve.

[ ID:  Documentation of the Cat Pose LP. The kraft paper sleeve features a diagrammatic illustration of cat constructed of ellipses. On top the words "Cat Pose" are prominently placed. An essay also runs across the front and back cover of the LP sleeve, and uses a non traditional layout to call attention to several phrases. A photograph of a cat in profile is featured on the LP label, which is visible through four inch hole on the back cover of the record. ]

It Takes a Line side (1 min sample).

To Make an Ellipse  side (1 minute sample)

Cat Pose Cover

Cat Pose 

By: Sonnenzimmer & Coupler
Recorded: Recorded in Chicago, 2020 – 2021. Additional recording took place at Experimental Sound Studio by Alex Inglizian.
Mastering: by Ryan Norris. 
Essay: Nick Butcher, Ryan Norris, and Nadine Nakanishi
Design: Sonnenzimmer 
Date: 2022
Edition: 100
Size: 12 x 12 inches
Catalog number: SZ041 



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