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.