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Sunday
Jun212015

Illumination

Christian Skjødt is a Danish artist and composer exploring temporal, spatial, as well as physical aspects of sound and aesthetics of noise. His installation works are often site-specific and include self-built electronics. Which is the case as well for his Illumination (2014): A site-specific piece for a 18th-century wine cellar in the Botanical Garden in Riga.

Illumination examines the translation of the outer circumstances, harvesting the energy from the sun, and bringing this into the cellar in the form of sound. In the cellar the sounds are spatialised, and the particular acoustics of the dome-shaped cellar are investigated.

Each circuit/speaker is tuned to 440 Hz when it’s receiving optimal sunlight. When it’s receiving less than optimal sunlight, the perfect pitch is distorted, resulting in a microtonal cluster-type of texture due to weather conditions and the rotation of the planet.

Christian Skjødt - Illumination from Christian Skjødt on Vimeo.

 

Monday
May252015

Dolmen

 

During this year’s Sonic Acts, one of the installations that stuck with me was Mario de Vega’s DOLMEN. It hung in the main hall of the Muziekgebouw and made a whole lot of noise.

Consisting of various high frequency receivers, radio scanners and custom electronics based on logarithmic detectors, it is an intervention that explores the boundaries of human perception as well as the social, political and physical impact of telecommunications technnology by making wireless signals in space audible. If you stood below it, making a call, you could hear the normally inaudible carrier wave being amplified by de Vega’s installation. In that way it was also kind of semi-interactive, and made one really aware of all the different signals we surround ourselves with. Not only the waves of cellular phones were audible, also the carrier waves of the radios of the ships floating by. 

Monday
May182015

Wall Street Sound Machine

Steven White is an visual artist from Ontario. White got the idea to convert old argicultural machines into a collection of fanciful kinetic sculptures when he and his wife moved to rural Ontario, and found a lot of obsolete equipment there. Sprockets, gears and valves on many of the pieces are interactive, and when you crank them, the sculptures produce an eerie, mechanical kind of music.

Wall Street Sound Machine is an interactive, kinetic sculpture made from an old metal roofing vent, a cast-iron wheel, gears, steel, guitar strings and a large hand-lithographed Wall St. sign. The sounds produced are dissonant and somewhat random, echoing the look of the Wall Street sign; corroded, abandoned, broken, oily and wrong. Inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, this piece highlights the underside of big commerce, showing the obsolete, broken aspects of a system that is in need of change.

Saturday
May162015

Urban Wind

Herman Kolgen is a multidisciplinary artist, working and living in Montreal. He calls himself an audiokinetic sculptor. His Urban Wind installation is part of his longer running Windfields series. The installations in this series have in common that they relate to the dynamic characteristics of the wind in one way or the other.

In Urban Wind, wind sensors are installed in strategic points in the city, be it intersections, bridges, tunnels, parks rooftops, etcetera. The velocity and direction of the wind gets analyzed and transmitted by WiFi to a group of suspended accordions that emit a euphonic soundscape. This way the audience can experience the dynamics of the wind in the city through the accordion bellows, which create harmonies influenced by the wind flow.

Monday
May112015

Five Sound Questions to Zeno van den Broek

The recurring FIBER Festival, which is happening in Amsterdam on the 15th & 16th of May presents the forefront of audiovisual performances, interactive installations, artist and company showcases and cutting-edge electronic music in one unified experience. This year, the theme is “Subterranean; Exploring Networked Tools and Matter”. With this theme, the festival researches new forms of art that offer a peek into the networked, “smart” landscape which has emerged from a worldwide explosion of digital technology. With an exposition, workshops, a symposium, a club night, and several AV & Music performances, FIBER Festival will immerse the audience in all that is the Subterranean. During FIBER, sound artist Zeno van den Broek will premiere his new AV work Divergence, a synergy between sound, vision, and space.

Zeno’s work revolves around space, spatiality and time, using both the audial and the visual to influence space and spatial awareness. Trained as an architect, Zeno explores the richness and complexity through different modes of expression. His new album and performance “Divergence” explores the tension between space and sound and the sound induced by their manipulated representation. The album is based on pure sound waves such as sine waves and white noise, manipulating these with tape or physically to create a divergence between the perception of sound and space. Real and digital spaces interact with pure and altered sound sources, resulting in an intense sensory reaction and heightened spatial awareness through four movements.

We’re very curious to Zeno’s ideas about sound, and are thus very glad to be able to a Five Sound Questions interview with Zeno!

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?

One of my strongest memories of sound is the echoing of sounds between the apartment blocks where I grew up. The sound of a motorbike or the claxon of a car was never just the pure single sound but a multiplicity of claxons and motors, moving through the neighborhood which made it often impossible to link the sound to its source.

2. How do you listen to the world around you?

Because I’ve spend so much time intensely listening and analyzing the sound in relation to its surroundings such as reverberation and reflections I have a hard time shutting of this kind of active listening. I often find myself paying more attention to the sound of a space than to the actual subject such as a concert. This does give me beautiful and interesting experiences but sometimes I wish I could just simply enjoy the music. 

3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

I don’t have a specific place I would like to mention but often when people warn me for ‘bad’ places to perform sound in due to things like excessive or weird reverberation. I love working with these places, using their characteristics to shape my sounds and to bring their qualities into expression. 

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

If we all would be more aware of the impact the sounds we create have for our surroundings we would be able to improve our living environment. A sound is not something you can just turn away from and it will disappear, sound infiltrates our bodies and minds and can alter our being. The spatial area sound interacts with is something that is often overlooked.

5. What sound would you like to wake up to?

Silence.

 

Thanks Zeno! See answers by other artists in the Five Sound Questions section, and be sure to Zeno out at the FIBER Festival on the 16th of May in Amsterdam or at the Divergence release party at Vechtclub XL on the 24th of May in Utrecht!

Tuesday
May052015

Inside There Falls

Mira Calix is a composer, sound designer and audio sculptor, who originally established herself releasing music on Warp Records. Since some time, she’s been incorporating her classical orchestral music into her installation pieces an theatre and opera performances.

Her latest piece, Inside There Falls, is a multi-sensory installation consisting on paper, sound, music and movement. This way, she wants us to think about storytelling and it’s essence, no matter the medium. She’s created a shimmering white environment, both physical and sonic, for the audience to explore and to experience (as you can see in the documentation from 02:30 on). The landscape seamlessly blends technology and organic materials. Comprised of over a kilometre of colossal paper sheets, a salt covered floor, a sizeable sphere of decaying paper suspended above a giant bowl of cinnamon powder, bespoke sound composition and ethereal dancers weaving amongst the multi-layered space. The blend of materials is of the essence for Calix, as the processed paper acts as a speaker, the dance is an intervention, and the light is instrumental. The story is what matters.

I love seeing multidisciplinary pieces like this, although they might be hard to wrap your head around when you’re not physically there and can only experience it by video.

Monday
Apr132015

Inner Out

The inner sounds of objects and substances picked up with contact mics or hydrophones never cease to amaze. For Inner Out, Italian sound designer and artist Nicola Giannini uses contact mics frozen in ice, and performs a concert on them by playing the ice. Using different objects and techniques, such as grinding, tapping, hitting the ice, or pouring hot water, he creates the source material which he processes with live electronics to create a surround concert.

 

Friday
Apr032015

Sonify... Earthquakes Worldwide

We often think of sonification as an algorithm that translates data into an often abstract, often digital sound. R x2 by Moscow-based media artist Dmitry Morozov a.k.a. ::vtol:: is different in that aspect. In the “Sonify…” series, we look at different ways of sonifying data. This time: Earthquakes!

R x2 is a kinetic sound sculpture collecting data on the shocks in the earth’s crust (earthquakes) and capturing all of them above 0.1 Richter magnitude scale. On an average day there are up to 200 of these quakes.

The data is converted into signals that control motors connected to a bunch of Thunder Drums acoustic drums. These Thunder Drums consist of a spring attached to the skin of the drum, so when it’s shaken the spring moves and creates a continuous resonance through the body of the instrument, not unlike the rumble of thunder. The rumble that sounds fits the character of an sonified earthquake quite well.

Saturday
Mar282015

Five Sound Questions to Lesley Flanigan

Lesley Flanigan is an experimental electronic musician living in New York City. Inspired by the physicality of sound, she builds her own instruments. Performing these instruments alongside traditional instrumentation that often includes her own voice, she creates a kind of physical electronic music. In her two-day “Residue” performance in the Guggenheim (below), she performs on minimal electronic instruments built from speakers and microphones. Periodically Flanigan enters the room and adds new elements to the system. As the textures react and build on each other, the space reverberates with subtle sonic imperfections, creating a physical sense to the sound in the space.

I found out about Lesley as she is playing some gigs in Europe, alongside sound artist Tristan Perich (whose Microtonal Wall we’ve featured before). One of them being the Fluister concert series in The Hague, the Netherlands on April 3rd. Furthermore they’ll be playing France, Switzerland and Germany as well in the coming days. Check out her website for more dates.

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?

First, is the sound of my mother’s voice resonating within her body. This is a sound I would hear with my ear was pressed to her chest as she sang or read to me. Her voice was so warm, like a blanket. Second, is the sound of my own voice. There was a hallway in my childhood home that had a natural reverb, and I used to sing in that space when no one was home. It was not a large space, but when I sang, my voice would soar and fill the air like I was in a cathedral. 

2. How do you listen to the world around you?

When I actively listen, I am usually taking a long walk outside or sitting with my eyes shut. 

3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

Oddly, when I think of places that I favor for sound, they are all very quiet places… where sound is almost, but not entirely, absent. 

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

I think it’s about listening.  I feel that when we take time to truly listen to actively engage in listening to another person, to music, to sounds in nature and in cities, to all the many sounds in world around us — we give ourselves time to be present in our lives. That’s very meaningful to me.

5. What sound would you like to wake up to?

Ocean waves. Birds. Trees blowing in the wind. My husband and daughter laughing. 

Thanks Lesley! See answers by other artists in the Five Sound Questions section, and be sure to check her out on one of her tour dates.

Tuesday
Mar102015

Audio Dust

Timo Kahlen is a German sound sculptor and media artist who has been making works since the end of the 80’s. While his sculptures and installations often need to be seen in real life to experience the tactile, perceptible vibrations, Kahlen has chosen not to expose his sculptural work online in video form. His interactive “net art” works are equally interesting however. A few of these are featured below. Put on your headphones, and click on the images to try them out:

(Audio Dust, 2011)

These works which run in the browser develop individually, are generative. Always live and different, as the viewer moves across, pauses or clicks at the responsive visual texture of the sound objects. As these works are made using Flash back in 2011, they won’t work on most smartphones, sadly.

(Signal-to-Noise, 2011)

There are quite some more to explore as well in his net art series, such as Scratch, Undo/Delete, Numbers. The interaction with Kahlen’s works isn’t so direct that it feels like a website, instead he’s really searching for a good balance between the autonomous and the direct, so it feels that there’s something organic to explore.

If you’d like to experience Kahlen’s physical sculptures, the next exhibition of his work is in Berlin, at the Ruine der Kuenste Berlin (Hittorfstr. 5, 14195 Berlin) from April 26 to May 24.