Entries in conceptual art (8)
Some art just sticks in your mind. In 2012 I saw Roman Kirschner’s / Els Viaene’s Maelstrom at the DEAF Festival in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and last year I found myself thinking about it a couple of times. Seeing the work; the subtlety of it, and not knowing how it worked left a big impression on me.
The work is inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe story “A Descent into the Maelstrom”, in which a man reminisces about surviving a storm, shipwreck and a whirlpool. Over time, memories are transformed and imagination comes into play. Our memories are liquid.
In Gaston Bachelard’s description of the most important travel of human beings, namely the one between the real and the imaginary, he states that when art takes us to this travel, it is not about the stay in one of the two realms. But instead the journey, the movement, the border crossing and the mutual exchange is what we should pay attention to. The dark line in Maelstrom is the vehicle of this travel and the border at the same time. It doesn’t show us one of the two realms. It shows us the process of trying to make sense, its materiality, its movement, its buildup, decay, turbulences, and fluidity.
When I saw the work, I had the revalation that because of not being able to understand the technology, I could focus more on the actual meaning and thought behind the work, as if it had been a painting. I did not “get” how the fluids worked, and the sounds tied in very nicely and came from within the object. If this would’ve been a projection, speakers and some visual algorithm, this would not have been possible.
Isn’t it smart to call you project ‘WOW’? Everyone using this as the title will look impressed. You know I like my things simple. The Cleartones project is a good example of this. But WOW, created by Carl Schilde, takes minimalism to the next level. It’s a vinyl record with just one sine tone. You can change the pitch of the tone yourself though, by switching your turntable from 33.3 rpm (a tone of, indeed, 33.3 Hz) to 45 rpm. The groove of the sine wave creates a nice visible pattern on the vinyl.
So why would you want to play a record like this? I like the way they describe how the record will bring up the little imperfections of your record player. Each needle and each tone arm will sound different. You will hear wow and flutter, and WOW will shake the whole building when you turn up the volume. You can read more about WOW and order one of the records (priced at €33.33) on wow.heavylistening.com. Is this the thing you’ve wished for all your life? Then why not forget about that brand new car and spend €33,333.33 on the silver master record of WOW, called MOM (pictured above).
Here’s a little preview of all the nice things I encountered while visiting Belgium for a weekend of artistic surprises. From May till September 16th TRACK - a contemporary city conversation adds a little spice to the already beautiful city of Ghent.
Of course my main interest was to see what sound-related projects were there, but I was impressed by the other contemporary art forms as well. Expect to be surprised by large, intense works of art, all telling their own story.
It brings visitors to places he/she would never have discovered otherwise. An old abandoned boxing school next to an old industrial site, an empty monumental directors residence, or some psychiatric center. TRACK encourages and enables you to explore the secret corners and the rough edges of the city. A very pleasant experience!
Due to a camera which was left in Belgium (but will be back next week, hopefully, as it contains a lot of photos and movies), I’ll save more detailed information about the sound-related projects of TRACK for later - so stay tuned!
The way we consume or media changes and changes. While the CD brought ‘crystal clear’ digital audio into our living rooms, a few decades later, while some people still like them, many of us hardly ever touch them again. They just sit there in that box, collecting dust.
Why not use all these unused CDs to create a piece of art? Bruce Munro collected 600.000 old CDs for his installation CD Sea. A field full of them. And while the installation is visually striking, it is also a bit sad in a way. These pieces of plastic, these pieces of music, once cherished, now thrown away. Also watch this short video about the installation process:
Some sounds border on silence. They are unnoticed, ignored, but gently surround us every day. There is no complete silence in our world, even in our quietest moments. That is what "Silence, Please" illustrates.
Chris Kubick created a catalog of these sounds. He codified these sounds in the form of text (wrote them out on transparencies), thus creating a silent 'sound installation'. This catalog "attempts to represent peace, tranquility, emptiness".
If this installation just makes visitors more aware of the sounds around them, it already serves its purpose, in my opinion.
What we hear and what we see are equally important, that is my opinion. Even while watching a movie, the right sound and the right music at the right moment can make us cry or make us laugh.
Sound artist Janek Schaefer creates sound installations that not only sound great but also look wonderful. Even the color and intensity of the light is carefully chosen.
Extended play is a very personal conceptual sound installation in which the unsynchronized sound of nine vintage turn tables is combined. The concept is best described by the artist himself. To hear the story behind Extended Play, watch the video on his website.
You can visit a retrospective of Schaefer's sound based work at the Bluecoat gallery, Liverpool, until January 17th, 2010.
For Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, artist Katie Paterson recorded the sound of three glaciers in Iceland. She then pressed these sounds on three records made of the melt water of these three glaciers. Three turn tables played the records for nearly two hours until they completely melted. A sample of one of the records can be heard here.
It seems like the ultimate piece of conceptual art. Next to that it points at present environmental problems like global warming an the perishability of our planet in a beautiful, subtle way.
(via Joachim Baan)