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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tangents / Sound Art (Vitiello, Roden, RareBeasts …)

Recent Items from the World of Sound Art: (1) Open call for entries for the Zeppelin Sound Festival, sponsored by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. The premise for the festival: “There are many kinds of deafness. This year’s Zeppelin Sound Art Festival will focus on those that are barely noticeable, slowly and steadily undermining our hearing. We like to listen to noise and work with it, but we are aware that some noises often inoculate in us a sort of ‘mental deafness’” (sonoscop.net, via elsa4sound.blogspot.com). Due date is February 15, 2008; performance will occur the monthly following.

(2) Happening right now in Taipei, through December 2: Openplay is the name of a sound and otherwise digital-arts festival (dac.tw/daf07, via taipeitimes.com). Participants include the Canadian audio-video performance team Skoltz_Kolgen and Valentina Vuksic, the latter of whose entry is as follows (related image to left, borrowed from the festival’s website):

Her presentation, Harddisko, uses defective hard disks collected from different PC shops, companies and institutions. Each of the 16 hard drives has the casing removed, with a special sound pickup mounted on the drive’s read head and connected to a sound mixer. As soon as the drive is powered, an initialization procedure begins with the head moving in a specific pattern and sounds are generated. These patterns vary with the disk’s manufacturer, model, production series, firmware version and history. The result can be compared to an orchestra of various instruments, with the artist playing the role of the conductor, but instead of directing the music with a baton, she uses a simple on-off command to supply or stop power, and perform fantastic electronic pieces according to the score-like procedures of the computer program interwoven with the richly textured mechanical movement and rhythm.

(3) Interview at flyingcircusproject.blogspot.com with Chinese sound artist Yuen Chee Wai: “I want to break out of the gallery framing.”

(4) The Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, Texas, just wrapped up, on November 17, a show of work by Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello, titled Reverberations and curated by Regine Basha. The gallery’s website (lorareynolds.com) has an archived presentation of information about and images from the show, though no sounds. Among the pieces were Vitiello’s “The Butterfly Collector (Speaker/Book)” (2007), pictured to the left (image from the website), and Roden’s “lines and spaces” (2006), which consisted of “two 12-inch portable turntables with internal amps, two single sided 12-inch records.” Another Roden piece in the show, “Another, Another Green World,” consisted of 14 ceramic sculptures with wood bases, inspired by the Brian Eno album Another Green World.

(5) Review in Miami Herald of The Killing Machine, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller‘s exhibit at the Miami Art Museum and the Freedom Tower: “Inspired by cinema, radio, theater, and the literature of classic storytellers like Franz Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges, the installations weave their own narrative, using audio and video to evoke a range of feelings and speak to social issues” (miamiherald.com, miamiartmuseum.org). The exhibit runs from October 21, 2007, through January 20, 2008.

(6) An interview with Cardiff and Miller at transition.turbulence.org, home of the excellent Networked Music Review. Says Cardiff: “George turns on music when he gets up in the morning and I hardly ever listen to music…until it’s martini time that is.” And Miller, on David Lynch: “The way he uses sound … that scene in Mulholland Drive where the singer seems to be singing, then the microphone falls over but the sound keeps going. I think we try to play with creepy, strange, mysterious moods in similar ways.”

(7) The website etsy.com is largely home to homemade, small-batch prints, clothing, knitware and the like. However, a virtual shop called RareBeasts, out of Canberra, Australia, is selling hand-crafted sound devices, including a random music generator called the Orb of Sound (etsy.com, youtube.com; image at left, from webstore), a two-fisted thing called the SwoofTronic Pi that lets you “change the frequency and duration of a basic sound wave using your thumbs to control light sensors” (etsy.com, youtube.com), a digital synthesizer called the SwoofTronic 2000 Sound Designer (etsy.com), and the reportedly un-flute-like FluteTronic 8-Bit (etsy.com, youtube.com). Check out the full set at rarebeasts.etsy.com. (Thanks for the tip, Rob.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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