My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

tag: sound-art

An Archival (1999) Road Excursion from Emma Hendrix

Courtesy of the galleries at Simon Fraser University

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The word “rhythmanalysis” is from the work of Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991), who explored — and forgive my poor paraphrasing, as I’m still learning about the topic — the role of rhythm in the social construction of urban environments. The theme of “rhythmanalysis” provided a structure to an exhibit earlier this year at Simon Fraser University, reflecting on a half century of artistic activity at the school. The exhibit, Through a Window: Visual Art and SFU 1965-2015, was in the Audain Gallery and Teck Gallery at SFU between June 3 and August 1. It is archived on the school’s website and SoundCloud page.

One of the earlier works in the overview is by Emma Hendrix, “Horizon,” dating from 1999. The piece mixes found audio of transportation sounds into a rhythmic excursion: the underlying churn of a bus en route, the beeping of a signal, the enclosed acoustics of vehicular space.

Writes Hendrix of the piece:

The title of this work refers to the imperceptible and unacknowledged loss of the acoustic horizon within the urban sonic environment. Horizon was completed in 1999 in SFU’s Sonic Research Studio using analog tape loops of field recordings taken along the Hastings corridor, bus route #135, between Commercial Drive and SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus. Soundmarks that comprise this work evoke the university/city commute and the deserted, last bus’ nightly departure from campus.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/sfugalleries. More from Hendrix at twitter.com/Irezicle and emmahendrix.com. More from the Simon Fraser University Galleries at sfu.ca.

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Singing Bowls

From an installation by Jason Charney

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The singing bowls of Jason Charney’s recent sound installation can challenge your speakers, and your ears. They can draw you in with their textured, sinuous waves, only to suddenly veer north into a piercing high register. Use headphones with caution, and start at a low volume. But all those caveats aside, the work is a must listen.

The track is a document of his half-dozen-plus steel bowls, set to trigger themselves. The result is a quasi-random series of overlaid signals, which on occasion take on a focused sequence akin to considered composition.

Writes Charney of his procedure:

A contact microphone and transducer attached to the bottom of each bowl creates a feedback loop, turning these bowls into resonant objects that play themselves. A computer listens and adjusts the signal flow to create a variety of sonic results. The sounds of visitors walking around the room or ambient noise from the space adds slight variation to the signal chain, magnified by the exponential nature of a feedback loop.

The work was exhibited at Eastern Bloc in Montréal, Canada, as part of Montréal Contemporary Music Lab 2015. Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/jasoncharney. More from Charney at twitter.com/jcharney and jasoncharney.com.

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The Art of the Sound of the Security of Art

The ongoing work of John Kanneberg

Many artists and musicians end up in, strive to be in, museums. Fewer make the museum the subject of their work. One such artist-musician is the prolific John Kannenberg, who in various pursuits has studied the sonic property of the institutions where art is on display. He may make sound art, but more to the point he makes art of the sound of art. He’s been sharing well-edited, studiously sequenced videos of his work, including “A Sound Map of the Art Institute of Chicago: Security (Excerpt),” which combines the voluminous echo of the place with overheard snippets of directives and responses from staff security, such as “No flashes” (as in photography) and “Being told the elevator doesn’t go where I want to go.”

Video originally posted at vimeo.com. More from Kannenberg at johnkannenberg.com.

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DIY in the Digital Age

Notes from Niki Korth's recent Creative Commons Salon event

Last Friday night, the 13th, I had the pleasure of giving a short talk at an event sponsored by the Creative Commons and organized by artist and writer Niki Korth. The event title: “Creative Commons DIY Salon – I Can Do Anything Badly.” It was set up to celebrate the publication the fascinating new book, I Can Do Anything Badly 2: Learning by Doing Is a Shared Responsibility, which is a collaboration between Korth, Clémence de Montgolfier, Hoël Duret, and Frédéric Teschner. I Can Do Anything Badly 2 collects conversations, in English and French, with artists, coders, lawyers and others “in order to document the spirit of DIY in the digital age.” The book is available in print and as a free PDF. More on it at icdab.club.

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My talk was about the Disquiet Junto, and what led up to it, about my transition over the past decades from interviewing musicians to engaging with them in music projects. The main junctures I focused on were 1989, when I started as an editor at a music magazine; 1996, when I left the magazine to take an online job; 2006, when, with the Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet project, I for the first time commissioned original works of music in response to a compositional query; 2011, when I opened the commissioning process a little for what became the Instagr/am/bient compilation; January 2012, with the launch of the Junto; and October 2014, when the Junto sound installation was exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art. I talked about the structure of the Junto, in which musicians each week, 500+ at last count, respond to compositional prompts, how the varying nature of those projects combined with the communal structure provides a comfortable, supportive structure (I’m studiously avoiding the word “community,” and failing) in which to potentially fail. And I explained how my own development and moderation of the Junto similarly pushes me into areas of deep inexpertise.

The other presentations were very interesting. Korth (twitter.com/kikisurvives) gave an overview the overall plan for the evening, and connected it to her recent book with De Montgolfier, Duret, and Teschner.

Luca Nino Antonucci (itwillbeok.com) talked about the history of the Venus de Milo, “bad sculpture,” and how incompleteness has its own sense of attraction.

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Mahmoud Hashemi (github.com/mahmoud) talked about his great sonification project Listen to Wikipedia (listen.hatnote.com), which he built with Stephen LaPorte. I was especially happy that Hashemi was involved, because despite the fact that we’d never met before, I use Listen to Wikipedia every semester as a subject when I teach my class about the role of sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art.

And for her presentation, Carissa Potter (peopleiveloved.com) went from theory to practice by having everyone in attendance fail in public at doing the tango.

There had been a plan initially to have music performed by members of the Disquiet Junto, but the timing just didn’t work out, which is for the best because the presentations went — happily — well past the planned 8pm closing time.

More on the event at thebigconversationspace.org, which was held at the Park Life gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Video, Final Days of San Jose Museum of Art Installation

A brief video interview about my SJMA / Disquiet Junto piece, "Sonic Frame

The San Jose Museum of Art has posted this interview with me about the piece, “Sonic Frame,” that I developed to be part of its 45th anniversary exhibit, Momentum, which runs through February 22, 2015:

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