Ronald van der Meijs is a Dutch artist working with physical objects and sound from an architectural perspective. We saw one of his works, If I Should Live in the Past, I Wouldn’t Need a Memory last week.
One of his latest works, Parthenocarp, is a big string instrument slowly transforming it’s sound as the connected cucumber plants grow. The growth of the vegetable plays the instrument.
As I was very intrigued by most of his works I’ve seen, I’m glad to have him on the Five Sound Question series!
Also check out an exhibition with six of his solo works from 2nd of December 2014 until 28th of February 2015 in Assen, the Netherlands.
1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?
It was in an early stage, still in my childhood that my own voice started to get darker and lower already, while my friends still had a high-pitched voice.
I was intrigued by the resonance in my chest. When I set on a wooden bench and made my voice real low the wood of the bench started to vibrate. Also when I was picking up the phone a lot of people thought it was my dad. They started to talk to me if it were my dad they were talking to. I was still very shy, so it was hard for me to interrupt them and tell them they were not talking to the old man himself but to his son.
2. How do you listen to the world around you?
With an open mind and real ‘open’ ears for details. I noticed many people don’t hear the details. But of course it has my attention because of my work. I relate to it. And I’m always looking for special sounds that have an appealing quality.
3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?
None in particular. Every place in the world has its own qualities and specific sounds that can be interesting. For example when you go to India there is that typical ‘blow horn’ sound of every car on the street.
While on the streets in cities there is always a lot of background noise, empty buildings can be very nice because of it’s heating system and some hissing airco sounds. It’s like the organs of a building. Although I have to say in nature, sounds can be very clear and thus more interesting.
The most striking sounds I’ve heard were on a glacier in Iceland. Complete silence except from the cracking and echoing sound of moving, grinding ice masses. To hear this in such a hostile and out of space environment is really thrilling.
4. How could we make sound improve our lives?
By listening to it more, and having more patience in life. Standing still for a moment and really listening to the environment. For example when people go for a walk in nature, they’re always chatting with each other, and looking down instead of being quiet and listening to the surrounding nature and the wind blowing true the treetops. It has a real nice peaceful and relaxing quality to it. To enjoy it you need to be quieter yourself.
5. What sound would you like to wake up to?
I think with tropical bird sounds, crickets or Gibbon monkeys in a tropical forest and the sound of croaking frogs in a rice field at night. Not four or ten, but thousands of them at once. I simply love nature.