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Entries in soundart (45)

Sunday
Jun042017

Splendour Lender

Jelle Mastenbroek is a Dutch artist interested in the “true meaning of objects”. With his design studio, he creates unusual and playful products reflecting on society, money and the human condition.
Quite a few of his works, such as the here pictured Splendour Lender, Money Back Guarantee 1 & 2 amongst others, take status and money as the concept.
How important is status in times of declining moral standards? In times where financial markets collapse, economies are shrinking and money tend to become a goal in itself? With this project I want to express the real nature of money and tell the true story of status; happiness. The splendour lender brings porcelain to life and shows the original function of money as a medium to exchange goods and services. By putting a euro coin you’ll experience a joyful moment. After usage the coin will be returned so the circle can go round.
I love the playfulness and delicacy of the work, and the fact that it is very transparent and can appeal to a big audience!
Monday
Feb062017

Vertical Studies at Sonic Acts

The theme for this year’s biannual Sonic Acts festival (23-26 February, Amsterdam) is “The Noise of Being”. The festival generally focuses on contemporary and historical developments within art, music, science and technology. Over the last decade, the festival’s focus has shifted more and more from the universe to planet earth. This edition, it hits a little closer to home, speculating on the strange and anxious state of being human.
One of the commissioned works this year is the collaboration between Espen Sommer Eide and Signe Lidén. The two have worked together in the past during Sonic Acts’ Dark Ecology programme, recreating the historic soundscapes of the Russian settlement Nikel in the work “Altitude and History”. Through working with the local communities, they brought back the sound of wood being chopped, the lighting of the morning stoves, the sounds of animals and birds in the forest, which has since been burnt away. Vertical Studies builds upon this work.
For Vertical Studies, they reimagined the beautiful water tower in the Dutch settlement Sint Jansklooster into a vertical field-lab, where Eide and Lidén are introducing their ongoing investigations into connections between sound, history, wind and weather. For this, they use several specially constructed instruments, created for the recording and playback of sounds in the vertical dimension. By recording sounds using instruments with strings resonating with certain wind speeds, they created an archive of sounds of wind at various heights.
By using this material in the 46m high water tower, they are able to let the audience experience the effect of sounds at different altitudes in different ways, creating a kind of concert hall for vertically recorded sound. It’s quite the trip from Amsterdam (a 1.5 hour bus drive), but the building alone is already worth it, and to hear the ongoing research of Eide and Lidén in this unique space is quite the experience. It can take quite some time to get used to the space- I kept slowly going up and down the stairs, trying to find the right position to be able to fully take in all of the interventions in the space, which is logical with a piece in a new context like this. The artists use various ways of making the space resonate beautifully: by using glass resonators and very physical low resonating tones, they create a very diegetic work consisting of their archive of sounds. While the piece is about using the sounds recorded at different heights, the piece is also very much about the beautiful architecture of the water tower itself.
“Vertical Studies” can be visited during the upcoming Sonic Acts festival, which is from the 23rd until the 26th of February in Amsterdam. The excursion leaves on the 23rd from Amsterdam, at 12PM and 02PM. The installation in the water tower can also be visited on 4, 11, 18 and 25 February. Have a look at the website for more information.
Monday
Nov282016

Spectrogram: Mislata

Edu Comelles is a Valencia-based sound designer, musician and curator. His works often make you aware of certain sociocultural elements, or your everyday surroundings.
For his latest project, Spectrogram: Mislata, Edu recorded the city of Mislata for a whole month. The resulting archive consisting of local urban, rural, social and cultural soundscapes was analyzed and turned into a spectrogram: a visualization of the spectral information in an audio-file.
By doing this, he makes the intangible heritage of Mislata visible without being very intrusive. The murals combine various spectrograms from different recordings. The image is full of details, complexities and graphic nuances. The murals are composed of parts of spectrograms of sounds from birds, cars, sirens, buses, church bells and all kinds of hums, hisses and roars that Edu found in the city of Mislata. Those textures, put together, form a portrait of the city and it’s inhabitants.
Sound art often takes time to immerse yourself in. Pieces in public space, even if they do tell a story about the neighborhood they’re in, can be an annoyance to the locals. By visualizing the soundscape, Spectrogram: Mislata blends in with the surroundings. The viewer can wonder about the sounds visualized on the mural at their own pace, when they pass it every day.

 

Sunday
Oct092016

Looking Forward: Sound during the Dutch Design Week

It’s already October, and that means the Dutch Design Week is almost upon us. During this nine-day event, the best of Dutch design is exhibited, and there are lots of workshops, seminars and parties to attend.
For a sound artist, the DDW used to be quite uninteresting. Last year, experience designers Arvid Jense and Marie Caye thought up Bizarre Sound Creatures: an exhibition space for sound art creations in the heart of the DDW.
This year, Bizarre Sound Creatures is back with another edition. Amongst the installations exhibited are the Dato Duo, the Pigstrument, but also other exciting interactive installations. See an impression of last year’s edition below:
Additionally, I am involved in organizing a small symposium on sound design for the everyday life, together with other institutions, which is being organized at the Bizarre Sound Creatures venue as well. We hope this will grow, and will become a larger symposium next year.
Next to Bizarre Sound Creatures, artist duo Strijbos & van Rijswijk is also curating a selection of interactive sound works that can be experienced at the DDW Music Lab. It’s safe to say that sound in design is becoming a hot topic. Now let’s just hope the boundaries between disciplines will blur, and different designers will work together towards a world where things not only look and feel better, but also sound more fitting.
Tuesday
Jul052016

Pietre Sonore

 

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.”

Friday
May132016

Sonambient Sculptures

I’ve wanted to write about Harry Bertoia’s sound sculpture work for quite some time now, but never got around to it. As New York’s Museum of Arts and Design is currently showcasing a retrospective on his work, it seems like fitting time.
Bertoia (1915-1978), originally from Italy, chose to move to America in the 1930’s. First starting his career as a painting student, he soon got to work with metal as he was asked to take over a metal workshop. After the war, he was quickly able to devote himself to sculptural work as he had made a wire-chair for Knoll, a furniture company, which was selling quite well.
Bertoia got interested in sound while bending wire. The thin strand of metal, when it snapped and struck another wire, vibrated and made sound. What would happen if he bundled these wires together, and turned this hitting of one wire to another into a symphony?
This led to several Sonambient sculptures, art pieces which resonate when touched and put into motion. Betroia believed and loved that these sculptures did not need any musical training or understanding. Bertoia didn’t see himself as a musician or a sculptor, but somewhere in between. The sound of these sculptures was released on several albums. These have been grouped in the amazing release Complete Sonambient Collection:
The exhibition Atmosphere for Enjoyment is on until the end of September at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
Friday
Mar252016

Ode to the meeting of Miss van E. and Mister van C.

Jeroen Diepenmaat is a Dutch artist with a predilection for sound, living and working in Deventer, the Netherlands. His works in public space are quite compelling. With a recent release on esc.rec., “Drums for Eugène”, and sound installation “Ode to the meeting of Miss van E. and Mister van C.”, his works are more and more leaning towards sound art. Another example of this is “belcanto”, where bells ring when you cycle over tubes.

“Ode…” consists of 83 music boxes in a forest in Diepenveen in the Netherlands, all playing two notes when a cord is pulled. When multiple boxes are activated, the noted come together, creating a melody.

Just like two people can meet each other coincidentally, and can become inseparable. A nice idea, and a nice intervention in public space.

Wednesday
Dec162015

Time and Tide Bell

I love sound installations that are out in the open, especially if they’re played by nature. Last summer I was able to see the Sea Organ in Zadar in real life, and it has had a very special place in my heart ever since. The way its sound was created by waves crashing against the organ embedded in the shore fitted the view and the weather conditions perfectly. The Time and Tide Bell project by Marcus Vergette, a multidisciplinary artist from the UK, has a similar appeal.
“Time and Tide Bell” is a permanent installation, existing of 12 bells around the U.K. in several very different locations, rung by the sea at high tide. The rise of the water at high tide moves the clapper to strike the bell. Played by the movement of the waves, the bell creates a varying, gentle musical pattern.
As the effect of global warming increases, the periods of bell strikes will become more and more frequent, and as the bell becomes submerged in the rising water the pitch will vary.
In that way the project is one of the few great examples of art that will be around for a long time, drawing attention to a large-scale, long-term problem.
Wednesday
Oct282015

Breathing Volume

We’ve featured some works of Marco Canevacci and Marco Barotti last January: Sound of Light. With Breathing Volume, they continue making immersive environments. Where Sound of Light sonified the weather by looking at the sky and the sunlight, Breathing Volume plays with the notion of space in an audio-visual context. For five minutes, the public is embraced between breathing walls, constantly changing their physical volume. This creates the perception of being inside a living organism.
Four ventilators make the lungs breathe in the same way humans do, and subwoofers transform the pulsing bass frequencies into the soul of the organism. Breathing Volume unexpectedly steers the focus from what surrounds us, to what is immediate, here and now, offering a distorted reflection on our relationship with space, its distance and extension. Again, as with Sound of Light, it reminds me of Space Odyssey, this time very obviously, als because of the black speaker-monolith at the end of the space.
Monday
Oct052015

Magnetoceptica

Magnetoception: a sense which allows an organism to detect a magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude or location. Using the name Magnetoceptica, sound artist Dewi de Vree and costume designer Patrizia Ruthensteiner create performances and installations in which atenna-based costumes pick up electromagnetic fields and translate them into electronic sounds.
Using everything from bent hazelnut rods, bamboo stems to a recycled spinning wheel, de Vree and Ruthensteiner combine odd, imaginative objects with open electronics. Copper wire is wound into different patterns and part of the costume, really tying together the electronic and the physical.
The sounds picked up with the antenna depends on the location of the performers: they can modulate it by changing their position and moving in relation to the space and each other.
The different costumes have their own qualities, such as the Omega Birch (above) is inspired by and made of Baltic birch, which is the most sought after wood in the manufacturing of speaker cabinets, compensating for the roll-off of low and high frequencies on speakers, evening the tone. The Spherics Harp (fragment below) is inspired by Qing Dynasty’s tremendous hairdos and is able to receive subtle signals from up high, bouncing against the ionosphere (below).