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Entries in installations (104)

Thursday
Jul312014

Maelstrom

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.

Sunday
Jul062014

Frequencies (a)

Nicolas Bernier is a Canadian sound artist who we’ve seen before. His “Frequencies” is an ongoing process focusing on basic sound generation systems. “Frequencies (a)” is a sound performance combining the sound of mechanically triggered tuning forks with pure digital soundwaves. The tuning fork, producing a sound closest to a pure sinewave, provides a historical link between science, tonal instrument works, and electronic music. The performer is triggering sequences from the computer, activating solenoids that hit the tuning forks with high precision. Streams of light burst in synchronicity with the forks, creating an intense sound and light composition.

Friday
May232014

300 speakers, pianola and vacuum cleaner

John Wynne is a sound artist currently based in the UK. His untitled installation for 300 speakers, player piano and vacuum cleaner plays with contrasts in size: the work is monumental and huge, while the sounds the installation produces are very delicate. In this way he is able to craft an immersive environment where the sound really becomes part of the space itself. The pianola plays some notes of Franz Léhar’s 1909 operetta Gypsy Love at a very low tempo. Synthetic sounds add to this and both the vacuum cleaner as well as the sound spatialisation are controlled through the space by contemporary digital technology. In that way the installation is about bringing together the old and the new, playing with themes like obsolescence and nostalgia.

At the moment, there’s a new show in London with site-specific works by John Wynne as well as Yoonjin Jung exploring one’s inner “movement” in relation to their surroundings. “The Flux, and I” seeks to provide a platform for the audience to detach themselves from the effects of time in order to understand and embrace the inevitable progression of events that we have little or no control over.

“The Flux, and I” is at the Gazelli Art House in London and runs until the 22nd of June.

Tuesday
May132014

Carileon

On Everyday Listening we hardly every post about novel instruments. I don’t exactly know why. Is it because most instruments are not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Do they not get documented that well?

In any case, this half-instrument, half-installation is definitely pleasing to the eye. New York-based sound artist Sebastien Leon created the Carileon, which can be played by the wind and a performer simultaneously. In the video you see multi-instrumentalist Loup Barrow (who plays some awesomely strange instruments) with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop.

Some say wind chimes are the most basic form of generative music. In this installation, the generative nature and performance come together, which I think is quite interesting.

Friday
Apr252014

Mirrors

With MIRRORS, Sydney-based visual artist and musician Tim Bruniges wants to capture the immersive nature of sound. With two large slabs of stone, both almost measuring 3x3 meters, one can rightfully call this work megalithic.

Acting as “sound mirrors”, these curved surfaces collect, compress and amplify all sound occurring in front of them. When received, sound is pushed outward along the edges in the opposite direction. Because the two slabs are placed in front of each other, sound is being transmitted back and forth over a ~8 meter distance, constantly amplifying the sound in the room.

This all is supported by a second layer of sound: two speakers and a microphone embedded in the parabolic reflector, amplifying the sounds in the room and playing them back with different layers of digital delay, creating a tension with the purely acoustic “delay”.

You don’t see that much sound art with a very great visual appeal. MIRRORS is different in that sense. The medative environment, the empty industrial space it is set up in, are all very carefully thought about. I’d love to experience it sometime.

Thursday
Apr032014

Wow&Flutter

Over the years, we’ve seen quite some artists working with old media such as tape recorders and records. Jimmy Eadie is also exploring the imperfections of old media. In his work Wow&Flutter he explores the phenomena of mechanical instabilities of turntables that can cause subtle pitch variations and beating effects on playback.

The first recorded music I experienced was on vinyl and I always seem to remember the hiss, static
and random jumps of the needle as much as the music itself. I would play with the turntable speeds, changing records from 45 RPM to 33 RPM and was intrigued at this new slowed down sound world.
This piece could be considered a listening sculpture celebrating and evoking that memory.
To Eadie, the imperfections are as important as the music itself. To enhance this effect, he chose to put the music on acetate disc instead of vinyl, as those disintegrate more rapidly and thus the composition will “age” with each successive play until the surface noise becomes intertwined with the music itself. Furthermore, he used the properties of the turntables to make his composition. As he wanted the visitor to be able to make their own composition by changing the position of the needles on the eight turntables as well as the playback speeds (33, 45 and 78 RPM), he chose his sounds wisely and composed his music by calculating what the pitches of the sounds would be at other playback speeds.
Friday
Feb282014

Porcelain

Continuing in the theme of Oliver Jennings’ work we saw last week, “Porcelain” is also about exploring sounds present in everyday objects. The interactive sound installation is based around a concept by the Swiss artist Jacqueline Rommert. In this interactive sculpture she wants to merge the “old” and the “new”. By drawing you in with the old-fashioned looking porcelain plates, she wants you to touch and play the plates. As you do, you get to hear it’s “soul” and listen to it’s voice: the voice of the material itself.

“Porcelain” is an installation made for Schweitzer AG. The artist worked together with sound/installation artists Fedde ten BergeMalu Peeters and Marloes van Son to realise the project. Fedde gives us an insight on the technical workings of the project:

The sound is picked up by 4 electret microphones. When you hit a plate, a knock-sensor registers, and a short bit of the sound is sampled and used for the sounds. The knock-sensors are furthermore used for different parameters of the sound transformation and synthesis. Transformations include additive synthesis, modulation delay, sample playback speed, noise modulation and reverb. The speakers are mounted and hidden in the box itself. All of this is running in a Pure Data patch on a Raspberry Pi.

I like how this installation is quite playable reacts in different ways, and is built very neatly: everything from the system it’s running on to the speakers are neatly built in to one box.

Monday
Feb242014

Every Object Has a Spirit

Oliver Jennings is a graphic design graduate from the Camberwell College of Art. Strangely enough, he’s been focusing on sound, exploring the natural sounds present in everyday objects.

In “Every Object Has a Spirit” he does just that. Using contact microphones, he captures the inner resonances of objects. Using a device to capture bio-activity in plants, he generates MIDI-notes based on the miniscule electronic impulses.

I especially like the contact mics, as they’re an amplification of a physical resonance, and are very closely related to the object one sees. For the MIDI-triggering plants this is less true, although Jennings does make a nice composition, in sound as well as images. In the description under the video on Vimeo, there’s a legend explaining the source of the sounds in the video, which gives an insight in how the sounds are made.

The ending is also quite strong, pulling the contact-mics out of his recorder, moving from the internal sounds of the bridge to the external sound of his surroundings.

Tuesday
Dec172013

Dinámicas del Vacío

Sound art or installations are often hindered by their surroundings. As sound waves travel through the air, they also travel through walls and ceilings. This makes it difficult to completely close off a space from external noises, especially in an environment like an art museum, for example.

“Dinámicas del Vacío” (translation: “Dynamics of Emptiness”) is a sonic sculpture by artist Ariel Bustamante (we’ve seen work from him before) and architect Alfredo Thiemann. They created an huge artificial and soundproof space, isolated from the exterior. This way they can create a completely different, totally immersive experience. By using a 18 meter long, 3 meter wide suspended tube stuffed with sound equipment such as sub-basses and speakers hidden between the layers of insulation, they can set up an environment totally disconnected from the outside world on an ordinary street.

Inspired by a month’s stay in the Antarctic, Ariel Bustamante created a cold, distant, imagined landscape for the viewer to dwell in. Eerie sounds of snow are played against flashing abstract representations of the Antarctic, fueling spectators’ imagination of the unknown.

These kind of immersive experiences are quite scarce. A famous example is the Philips Pavilion, thought up and built by Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis and Edgar Varèse for the World’s Fair in 1958. These kind of works show that architecture and sound go hand in hand very well, and the effect the architecture has on the experience of sound is often underestimated.

See the process of placing the installation as well as an impression of the experience (from 04:15 on) in the video below.

 

Wednesday
Nov202013

Stay Tuned

An audio work and installation based on the moment when an orchestra gets in tune, before a performance. An event that I wish could last forever, which is exactly what ‘Stay Tuned’ is about.

For this installation piece consisting of a multiple speaker setup, Rutger Zuydervelt (better known under his Machinefabriek moniker) asked 150 artists to record an ‘A’, the note an orchestra normally tunes to. Each recorded note has it’s own characteristics, and is part of the whole.

The speakers are spaced so that one can walk through this orchestra of sounds, created by individual speakers emitting one characteristic ‘A’ at the time. Walking through this orchestra, your experience of the piece slightly changes as your proximity from source to source changes.

The piece was presented at Sounds Like Audio Art festival last July in Saskatoon, Canada, as well as at the Into the Great Wide Open festival on Vlieland, the Netherlands. For the latter, speakers were strapped to trees at a spacious spot in the woods. Imagine stumbling upon this installation whilst walking through the forest at sundown. Would be quite the experience. 

For more Machinefabriek I can heartily recommend the collaboration with Banabila he recently released: Travelog.