Since ancient times, Japanese people have been sensitive to perceive nature as it is, from the sound of the wind through pine trees or the singing of insects in each season. ‘Chijikinkutsu’ was developed with this kind of delicate sense. - Nelo Akamatsu
Nelo Akamatsu is a Japanese multidisciplinary artist. “Chijikinkutsu”, the title of his latest work, is a contraction of the words “Chijiki” and “Suikinkutsu”. The first meaning “geomagnetism” and the latter is the word for a sound installation ornament for traditional Japanese gardens, invented in the 16th century.
In “Chijikinkutsu”, sewing needles are floating on water in glass tumblers which are magnetized, so they are affected by geomagnetism and turn like a compass. When electricity is applied to the coil which is on the outside of the glass tumbler, it creates a temporary magnetic field drawing the needle to the coil. The needle hits the glass creating a very delicate sound.
“A round surface of water in the glass with a floating magnetized needle, reminds me somewhat of a tiny earth with geomagnetism. The smaller the sounds of the glasses will be, the more keenly viewers’ sensibility will be sharpened. In the meantime, they realize that the sounds don’t come from outside of their bodies, but already exist inside of their mind.” - Nelo Akamatsu
I love the minimalist approach of only using a few elements and letting the complexity emerge from having multiple instances. Also, where most sound art is often very “visual” in simply showing the elements that the installation experience exists of (the speakers, the wire, the sensors), this work does not show the regular elements but maybe an even more stripped version of it. A speaker is also a coil being pushed and pulled, it also works with electromagnetism. In that sense, Akamatsu’s work is a very, very rudimentary work of sound art.
I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more sculptors making use of sound in their work. Even though Wikipedia has quite a list, it’s not something you run into very often. Also, most of the artists on the list have only made use of sound one, or only quite a few times in their career.
Pinuccio Sciola, a quite renowned Italian sculptor who sadly passed away two months ago, was one of those artists who used sound in his sculptures, and even performed them. Often called “the man who makes the rocks sing”, his most famous works are the Pietre Sonore, or the Sounding Stones: sculptures, often made of limestone, that he used to play with his hands or with small rocks.
His ideas on these sounding stones were quite spiritual: he believed that stones have a voice that has always been there, but he only helps to release it. His limestone sculptures for example make a sound of a “liquid quality” when played, because geologically seen limestone is just fossillized water. As if the memory of water was imprisoned inside the stone during glaciation. An interesting way of looking at the world which might be very abstract, but helps one to think about long timespans.
To the rational minds that are sceptical of his ideas, Sciola only had only one thing to say: “I want to remind those who are sceptical that all the information circulated today by computers and digital networks in the end is stored and elaborated using infinitesimal silicon crystals.”