As Real As It Gets / As Real As It Sounds

Disquiet Junto sound design for the apexart exhibit in Manhattan (November 15 - December 22, 2012), organized by Rob Walker

Notes on the sound design produced by the Disquiet Junto over a series of projects for the exhibit “As Real As It Gets,” organized by Rob Walker for the gallery apexart in Manhattan. The exhibit runs from November 15 – December 22, 2012. More at There will be a live concert of music from the exhibit at 6:30pm on Tuesday, November 27. It will feature:

Shawn Kelly (Arcka)
Brian Biggs
Ethan Hein
Kenneth Kirschner
Tom Moody
Joon Oluchi Lee
Roddy Schrock

Moreon the show and the musicians at

In his novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), Émile Zola (1840 ”“ 1902) depicted the rise of the modern department store during the waning years of the 19th century. He did so in terms that seem more futurist than realist: “There was the continuous roar of the machine at work, of customers crowding into the departments, dazzled by the merchandise, then propelled towards the cash-desk. And it was all regulated and organized with the remorselessness of a machine: the vast horde of women were as if caught in the wheels of an inevitable force.” Or perhaps, more to the point, Zola was simply being realistic about the future. The book is rich with sonic depictions of the intensity of retail goings-on — not only the noisy machinations of capitalism in action, but the weighty silences that punctuate human communication.

As part of the “As Real As It Gets”exhibit, the online music collective known as the Disquiet Junto explored the nature of sonic activity in large-scale retail spaces. The Disquiet Junto is a freeform group of musicians — approximately 250 as of this writing, located around the globe — who take on weekly music projects; with Fluxus and Oulipo as guides, they employ creative restraint as a springboard for productivity. Between September and November of 2012, a series of assignments spurred the Disquiet Junto members to probe the acoustics of commerce from distinct vantages.

”¢ The first of these assignments Disquiet Junto Project 0037: Store Recordings involved the collection of raw field recordings from retail spaces. These include, among other locations, a London, England, shopping center; a Macy’s in Boston, Massachusetts; a department store in Shibuya, Tokyo; an Apple Store in Boulder, Colorado; a market in Nonthaburi, Thailand; and a Target in Simi Valley, California.

”¢ The second assignment Disquiet Junto Project 0038: Zola’s Foley asked the Disquiet Junto members to create fake field recordings, artificial environments: sounds that suggest retail spaces but were created from whole cloth. This project employed the foley techniques of motion pictures and television.

”¢ The third assignment (Disquiet Junto Project 0043: Dazzled Machine) asked the Disquiet Junto members to remix the material accumulated during the first two assignments. The proposed goal was to approximate the mechanistic fury inherent in Zola’s novel.

”¢ And for a fourth side project, a handful of Disquiet Junto members produced brief, seductive sonic cues for an imagined contemporary franchise of The Ladies’ Paradise / Au Bonheur des Dames department store.

The combined 2.7 hours of sounds will be heard in an ongoing state of shuffle throughout the run of “As Real As It Gets.”Imaginary and documentary soundscapes will challenge each other’s sense of reality. Remixes will run up against the raw materials from which they were forged. And on occasion a voice will beckon the gallery visitor to The Ladies’ Paradise for the latest blue-light special.

This set is comprised of material selected from the above project by Rob Walker, the exhibit’s organizer:

The following is a list of the more than 40 members of the Disquiet Junto whose sounds are heard in this project: Adam Baker (Deadwood), afterpostmodernism (Ian Campbell), all n4tural, Benjamin Dauer, bigpause, Carlos Lemosh, Charlie Grant, Damon Holzborn, Dean Terry, DEMILIT, Dick Mitic, Dizzy Banjo, echosonic (Grant Weston), Emma Hendrix, Ethan Hein, Inlet (Corey K.), jai_, jmmy kpple, James Ross, Justin Buckley, Ken Mistove, Lem Herlihy, lordofoverstock (Matthew Austin), Mark Rushton, Michel Bananbila, mjh 7, Moody Alien (Thessaloniki), Natalia Kamia, Naotko (Naoyuki Sasanami), Random Coil, SIGHUP (Steven Hamann), simpsi, Steve Burnett, Summer of Nebula, Super Miracle Dream Team, The Holocene (Pj Hamlin), Tuonela, vanWinkle (Neal B Johnson), vuzhmusic (C. Reider), Westy Reflector, and Zedkah.

The Disquiet Junto is moderated by its founder, Marc Weidenbaum ( Special thanks to Rob Walker, apexart, Antonin Gaultier, Hunter Hayden, Cameron Maddux, Cullen Miller, Carl Ritger, Paolo Salvagione, Ellen Shakespeare, Stephen Vitiello, Boon Design,, Futureprüf,,,, the students in the fall 2012 semester of the course ADV 499-30 (“Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds”) at the San Francisco Academy of Art, and the members of the Disquiet Junto.

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