Like so many so-called “non-essential” businesses, art galleries largely sit empty right now. Some have been finding uses for the social distance, maintaining connections — and building new ones — through virtual events. The Fridman Gallery in Manhattan, for example, has been hosting live performances, under the title Solos, starting back on May 14. The gallery’s Vimeo page just yesterday uploaded a 12-minute video titled “SOLOS 04 – Room Noise Test.” Presumably it’s for the event scheduled tomorrow, June 23, at 8pm New York time (5pm here, I say to myself, as I enter it into my calendar). The footage, which is continuous and unedited, opens with actual room tone: near silence against the sheer absence of visible activity, aside from cars passing in the street just outside the distant glass front. Then a voice begins speaking and there is clapping, signals testing out the space’s reverberations (the sound of one gallery clapping, as it were), and the actual reverb on what must be the house sound system. There’s an extended bit of reverb right around 10:30, the echo so long and deep that sounds layer atop each other, spoken statements rendered unintelligible as the syllables cascade into a pile. The video is a strange thing, and a welcome one for someone who is used to spending lots of time in art galleries and who hasn’t been in one since February.
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• February 5, 2020: The first session of the 15-week course I teach at the Academy of Art about the role of sound in the media landscape.
• April 15, 2020: A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• December 13, 2020: This day marks the 24th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 7, 2021: This day marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• At least two live group concerts by Disquiet Junto members in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the works for 2020.
• I have liner notes for a musician's solo album and an essay in a book about an art event due out. I'll announce as the release dates come into focus.
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).
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Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.
• 0460 / Creative Destruction / The Assignment: Show how you got to a tortured sound.
• 0459 / From a Distance / The Assignment: Make music intended to be heard from afar.
• 0458 / Phrase Shift / The Assignment: Make music in a sequence of parts with shared elements.
• 0457 / System Alert / The Assignment: Compose sounds for an OS.
• 0456 / Line Up / The Assignment: Interpret a painting by Agnes Martin as if it were a graphic score.
And there is a complete list of past projects, 460 consecutive weeks to date.
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