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

tangents / Sound Art (Basel, sonoluminescence, performativity …)

Recent Items from the World of Sound Art: (1) From a New York Times overview of the Art Basel Miami Beach festival, which closes tomorrow (nytimes.com):

Installations by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, the subjects of a survey at the soon-to-expand Miami Art Museum, had riveting soundtracks that ranged from opera to strange mutterings to ambient noise. I wished I had had time to see Ms. Cardiff and Mr. Bures Miller’s achingly harmonious “Forty-Part Motet,” which was in the show but installed off-site at the Freedom Tower in Miami.

Music was also the basis of one of the fair’s biggest word-of-mouth hits, an installation at the Kate MacGarry Gallery’s shipping container by the British duo Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard [image at left, courtesy of the artists]. Titled “Silent Sound,” it led me into a dark, padded chamber to hear, and feel, a recording of a specially commissioned live performance by the English rock musician J. Spaceman. Maybe it was the “ambisonic” technology, an ocean rather than a wall of sound. Maybe it was the subliminal message that was supposedly encoded in the music. Or maybe, after three days of nonstop looking, it was a relief just to sit and listen.

(2) Also happening as part of Art Basel Miami Beach, presentations of George Antheil‘s Ballet Mécanique, including an all-robot version put together by Paul Lehrman (rhizome.org). … (3) Drawings by Sonic Youth‘s Lee Ranaldo are exhibited as part of The Visions Come along with work by Leah Singer and Philippe Vandenberg, curated by Jan Van Woensel, on display at Art Basel Miami Beach (railsf.blogspot.com). … (4) Apologies to composer and technologist Jason Freeman for my posting this late in the game, but this evening is the final of three performances in Miami of the ingenious Flock (jasonfreeman.net/flock, carnivalcenter.org/tickets), in which “a computer vision system determines the locations of the audience members and musicians, and it uses that data to generate performance instructions for the saxophonists.”

(5) The Silent Dialogue exhibit of bio-tech art at the ICC in Tokyo includes several sound works, among them “Call <-> Response” by Tanaka Hiroya and Cuhara Macoto (collectively known as tEnt) in which a “coconut shell is fitted with a small speaker which emits varying bird calls via a continuous algorithm-based signal” (image at left, courtesy of the gallery) and “Paphio in My Life” by botanist Dogane Yuji and composer Fujieda Mamoru in which “the inaudible sounds of plants are picked up by connected wires then converted to manifest a plant’s ‘voice’” (we-make-money-not-art.com, ntticc.or.jp). The exhibit is open until February 17, 2008, and I hope to catch it when I’m in Tokyo around Christmas. (This is, to be honest, what I was hoping the exhibit Biotechnique through January 6, 2008, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco would be more like. I visited that exhibit a few weeks ago and it was more industrial biotech than artistic technique.)

(6) Ensemble is the title of a group show guest-curated by artist Christian Marclay at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, the website for which lists participating artists, including Terry Adkins, Doug Aitken, Darren Almond, John M. Armleder, Fia Backström, Harry Bertoia, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, Angela Bulloch, Martin Creed, David Ellis, Mineko Grimmer, Tim Hawkinson, Jim Hodges, Evan Holloway, Pierre Huyghe, Paul Ramirez-Jonas, Nina Katchadourian, Martin Kersels, Jon Kessler, Katja Kölle, Yoko Ono, Dennis Oppenheim, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Carolee Schneemann, Noah Sheldon, Yoshi Wada, and Angela White. The exhibit runs through December 16. The image to the left, courtesy of the ICA, is Tim Hawkinson’s “Music Box (Time in a Bottle)” (1994). More info at icaphila.org. … (7) While in Philly: A description of artist Michael Grothusen‘s Life’s Joys, Life’s Disappointments, currently up at the Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, for which I cannot seem to find a website: “The chain drags along the base, scraping it and sounding like a set of keys being fumbled with on a metal desk” (fallonandrosof.blogspot.com).

(8) A little further south, at the Contemporary Art Center in Virginia Beach through December 30, 2007, is Stephen Vitiello: Slow Planes, Fast Trees (sound works and documents): “Working with sounds recorded from Virginia environments, artist Stephen Vitiello has created an exhibition of sound installations, photographs, and a video.” The work focuses in part on the constant planes overhead that are part of the area’s modern soundscape. (Image at left courtesy of the gallery.) More at cacv.org and dailypress.com.

(9) Just over in Vienna, Austria, is Shut Up and Listen! 2007, a three-day festival of music and sound art put together by Bernhard Gal and Ernst Reitermaier. It ran from December 4 through December 6 and included work by Lasse-Marc Riek, Christopher DeLaurenti, Lale Rodgarkia-Dara, Astrid Schwarz, and others (sp-ce.net). … (10) Details on the conference Sound, Art, Auditory Cultures organized by Søren Møller Sørensen, Torben Sangild, Erik Granly, and Brandon LaBelle and held in Copenhagen late last month. Among the many interesting-sounding papers were Jacob Kreutzfeldt on “Acoustic territoriality in a Japanese shopping area,” Mads Krogh on “Rap music’s spaces – between music and soundscapes,” Carolyn Birdsall on “The Sounds of Tradition? Radio Aesthetics and Karneval Rituals in Interwar Germany,” and Juliana Hodkinson on “Listening to the drone: aural performativity without event” (hum.ku.dk). … (11) News of the honorary-mention recipients in the decade-running VIDA competition, founded by Fundación Telefónica, included mention of Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand‘s “Camera Lucida (Light Chamber): “The ‘sonic observatory’ converts sound waves into light by means of a phenomenon called sonoluminescence” (telefonica.es/via, via we-make-money-not-art.com).

(12) Jon Brumit‘s Neighborhood Public Radio, which I witnessed earlier this year at the Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco, will be part of the Whitney Biennial 2008 (dailyserving.com). The Whitney has posted a long list of participating artists, which I’m still parsing, but at least one more sound-worker is in there, DJ Olive (whitney.org).

(13) Among the upcoming exhibits at the Manhattan’s new New Museum (building, to left, in a photo courtesy of the museum) is The Sound of Things: Unmonumental Audio from February 13, 2008, to March 23, 2008: “three programs of short audio collages by thirteen international artists with backgrounds in music, poetry, and visual art.” Participants include Vito Acconci, Anthony Burdin, Trisha Donnelly, Paul Elliman, Andy Graydon, Language Removal Services, Ulrike Müller, Nautical Almanac, Keith Obadike, Pauline Oliveros, Susan Philipsz, Seth Price, Stefan Tcherepnin (newmuseum.org). The exhibit is “organized by Lauren Cornell, Director, Rhizome, in collaboration with New Museum curators Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions; and Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator.”

(14) Endless coverage of the recent Blip Festival 2007 that ran in New York City from November 29 through December 2 (blipfestival.org, wired.com, boingboing.net, joystiq.com, kotaku.com, nymag.com, villagevoice.com, etc.). Performers and presenters included Bit Shifter (whose August 2007 show at Brooklyn’s Galapagos I attended and wrote about earlier — disquiet.com), odenständig 2000, and Bubblyfish, among others. “You may think we’re splitting hairs,” Mike Rosenthal, director of the Tank, where the events were held, said of the distinction between the Blip Festival and the Tank’s Bent Festival, “but it is different” (nytimes.com).

(15) Applications to participate in Sound Travellers (“a two year project to facilitate and promote the national touring of sound art/electronica, improvised jazz and contemporary classical music”) are due December 17, 2007 (soundtravellers.wordpress.com). … (16) The Lab, a gallery space in San Francisco, has an open call for “visual or sonic art exhibitions”; deadline: January 11, 2008 (thelab.org).

By Marc Weidenbaum

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