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

tag: sound-art

A Map Is a Composition / A Composition Is a Map

Listening to a mountain pass with Kate Carr

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Kate Carr, who travels widely and records as she goes, is employing sound as a mapping tool. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that she is employing a map as a compositional tool.

This half-hour track is an experiment of hers. As I understand it, roughly each three minutes marks one of 10 sites along a path of a mountain in Spain. The sound isn’t pure field recording — or it doesn’t appear to be. There seem to be edits and treatments, but perhaps the sound in the Spanish countryside is simply that surreal. There is muted singing, too — perhaps Carr in duet with the world.

She writes of the piece, which is titled “From a wind turbine to vultures (a sonic transect of a small mountain in Velez Rubio, Spain),”

This is an idea I have been working on for a while. It involves the sonic investigation of 10 sites along a sonic transect. These sites were evenly spaced along a straight line up a small mountain in a remote area in Spain. The wind turbine in the title was in the valley of the mountain, the vulture at the peak. This is just a testing out of this idea.

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She also mentions that the individual sites are noted in the track’s comments — signposts along the audio timeline — but they don’t appear to have gone live yet. (Update 2015.10.10: The sites are now visible in the comments at the track’s SoundCloud page: 0:05, 7:59, 11:32, 15:07, 17:14, 20:04, 21:43, 23:25, 25:37, 28:36.) The audio was uploaded earlier today.

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Track originally posted at More from Carr at,, and

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An Archival (1999) Road Excursion from Emma Hendrix

Courtesy of the galleries at Simon Fraser University


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 More from Hendrix at and More from the Simon Fraser University Galleries at

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Singing Bowls

From an installation by Jason Charney


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 More from Charney at and

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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 More from Kannenberg at

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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


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 ( 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 ( talked about the history of the Venus de Milo, “bad sculpture,” and how incompleteness has its own sense of attraction.


Mahmoud Hashemi ( talked about his great sonification project Listen to Wikipedia (, 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 ( 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, which was held at the Park Life gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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