The nonvulgar journey of sonic art

I listen, I hear, I obey.

Does the exquisitely dissonant institution of sound art, and its subsequent ordering of desire, ensure that we subscribe to a genealogy through which it is governed? In this composition I hear a rhizomic collective, which obeys, albeit contradictorily, a government of past and future time. Historical mapping reconceptualized, audibly so. I hear the pop, clunk, hum, clink, buzz of the sonic agent provocateurs scrambling to inscribe difference.

‘Tomtoumtomtoumtomtoum’; the ‘Cage’ of Sonic Arts past. I hear hindsight.

‘Bwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’; the sound of sonic arts future.

I hear possibility, dynamic, open, multiple, textured, outside ‘time, (is there outside time?). Referring to Heidegger, Derrida describes how, in the nonvulgar or ‘Greek’ conception of time, times past, present, and future converge and diverge; they are at once glancing, touching and yet so very distant. The nonvulgar appear and disappear in this composition’s motifs, they ascribe difference, blend and further differentiate how I listen. I hear the sound of the oncoming community, Nietzsche’s Übermenschare, nonvulgar, allegorical.

This sonic journey has no pause, the repeating beating ‘new order’ of fleeting voices propels concepts adnauseam. Everything that can happen is happening, and not only once, but infinitely. Turning and returning. It does not go along with a simple, linear, modernist scenario. But further problematizes sonic arts institutionalized patterns of irrationality.

Further along the plane I hear double meanings, a double-pincer of the future: one linear, one nonlinear.

It invokes individuation, movement, body, and sensation. Voicing announcements of the future of noise; whilst scattering uncanny silence, more a buzz than a beep of the future becoming. Is this a compositional transformative strategy, or my listening as relational and ultimately performative? I hear the sonic future that never arrives because it was already always here. It sounds nonlinear, atemporal or polymorphically temporal. It presents post-human possibilities as resonant and reverberant.

Ironically, this playful and metaphorical collage of sound arts genealogy is not only broader, but more literally plausible than what Heidegger calls the received or “vulgar” view of orderly, progressive, linear time. Language itself, the splintering of sounds into signs, into embodied and disembodied representations, signals and signifiers, call into question my subjective image of the past: a schizophrenic plane of signification, a neurotic creativity, the disunity of the singularity of becoming sonic.

Finally, I hear silence, an absent sense of knowing, of the heard, that I project into a future: pop merging with click, and dissolution into ecstasy, which relieves my constitutive sense of loss. Lacan suggests that this loss is based on the illusion of the uncoordinated. As a listener at the end of this work I feel like a wobbly toddler looking in the mirror and happily hallucinating in my own disunity. Once again language splintering signification. I am left with the idea of an uncomfortable wholeness. The reconciliation of sonic arts past with its future seems like an empirical illusion.

Ennioa Neoptolomus http://radioplateaux.org/


following Takahiko Iimura, Observer/Observed/Observer, chapter Camera 1/2 – Monitor 1/2

Exhibition at Quare Gallery, London.
Curated by: Marialaura Ghidini

Member of Adachi’s Group at “Speaking Out” Symposium. Tate Modern, South Bank, London

This symposium focused on the use of the spoken word in artistic practice and its manifestations in sonic and audiovisual art works. Taking the lead from the recently published anthology of works Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, this event encompasses performances, talks and conversations by artists and researchers who employ spoken words as their material and inspiration.

Contributors included Adachi, Caroline Bergvall, Dani Gal, Brandon LaBelle, Cathy Lane, Oswaldo Macià, Nye Parry, Inua ‘Phaze’ Ellams, Imogen Stidworthy, David Toop and Trevor Wishart.

Organised by CRiSAP

http://www.adachitomomi.com/

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/eventseducation/symposia/20795.htm

Worktype: Multimedia Performance
Location: Serpentine Gallery, London

The Sound Moneyfesto was launched by Lee Scrivner at the Manifesto Marathon 2008 at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The mp3 above is his demo of one of four compositions performed by the ensemble.

It used music, satire, and word play to comment on the 2008 banking crisis (specifically the failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the idea of sound money.

The Sound Moneyfesto was launched in concert with manifestos from Marina Abramovic, Brian Eno, Gilbert & George, Yoko Ono and Vivienne Westwood.

Year:2008
Location: Germany
Worktype: Composition
Materials: Recorded Media (Stereo Audio)

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My sense of disconnection from the people of Bad Ems as a consequence of language and the reverberant nature of the Kunstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral architecture. I was working in a disembodied and digital process, where, despite my actual presence in Bad Ems, much of my time was spent online and isolated from the real-world context around me. Although this time was highly productive I decided to counter such work with a piece intended to connect me more closely with the people and environment around me.

I had made the acquaintance of Rainer Hoffman, administrator of the Kunstlerhaus, a few days earlier, we had managed an interesting conversation, and I had noticed that he had difficulties with his hearing, and spends the day with hearing aids (specifics of this?). I myself was experiencing a restricted access to auditory world around me, due to the building’s sonic characteristics, and my own poor understanding of German. I had for a long time wanted to try a version of Alvin Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ (1970) and so proposed a collaborative work to Rainer.

‘I am Sitting in a Room’ is one of Lucier’s most well known works, and he has always encouraged interpretations of the piece. It is a work based in a short piece of spoken text, originally spoken by Lucier himself. The complete text of this original version is presented below:

I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of r-r-r-rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity nnnnnot so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to s-s-smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.

This short piece of text explains the work quite succinctly, and the final work was originally presented as a forty minute recording. I asked Rainer to translate the text into German, and whether he would be prepared to have his voice recorded for the purposes of the piece. He was initially hesitant, selfconscious about the way he speaks German, saying that people often comment that he speaks his mother tongue in a strange way as a result of his hearing disability. When however I explained Lucier’s own problems with speech, and that his own experience would add to the work, he readily agreed. Rainer’s translation of Lucier is as follows:

Ich sitze in einem Raum, der anders is als der Raum, in dem Sie sich gerade befinden. Ich nehme meine Sprechstimme auf und spiele sie ab, nehme sie auf und spiele sie ab, immer wieder – bis die Resonanzschwingungen des Raum sich selbst verstäken, so dass jede Ähnlichkeit mit dem Sprechen, auxer vielleicht mit dem Sprechrhythmus, ausgelöscht wird. Was Sie dann noch hören, sind die natürlichen Resonanzschwingungen des Raumes, gegliedert durch das Sprechen. Diese Handlung ist für mich weniger die Demonstration eines physikalischen Sachverhaltes, als vielmehr ein Weg, alle UnregelmäXigkeiten, die meine Sprache möglicherweise aufweist, zu glätten.”

The full iterative realisation of this work was carried out in the KHSB on the evening of 20th April 2008. The work is significantly different from Lucier’s, and the openness of his original intentions should be credited. My aims in attempting this work were met in the process of carrying out this work. I wanted a way to engage with the acoustic space of the KHSB, I needed some means of communication across a language barrier, I wanted to address my inability to speak or understand German and also to explore issues of authenticity with spoken German, interestingly fore grounded by Rainer’s inhibited access to the auditory. I would take this opportunity to thank Rainer for his participation in this work, and to hope that he enjoys listening to the transformation of his voice manifested by the acoustics of his daily place of work.







Year : 2008
Location : Germany
Worktype : Sound Installation
Materials: stereo digital recording, microphones, grand piano, playback system.

Base Gesture

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Mid-Cycle

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End Cycle

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Obstruction Placed: Position 1: (Distant from Art) (exterior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 2: (Approaching the Kunstlerhaus) (exterior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 3: (Inside the “Waterbugs” installation) (interior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 4: (Kunstlerhaus Downstrairs Hallway: In-between the “Waterbugs”, “Skype Glitch.voices (remodelled)” and “Dissolving Ghost Piano” installations) (interior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 5: (Kunstlerhaus Stairwell: Ground/First Floor: “Waterbugs” and “Dissolving Ghost Piano” installations audible) (interior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 6: (Kunstlerhaus First Floor) (interior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 7: (Kunstlerhaus Second Floor Stairwell – leading to open door to “Cat’s Cradle”) (liminal)

Obstruction Placed: Position 8: (Having Crossed the Border) (exterior)

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Obstruction Placed: Position 9: Overlooking (Higher Up in the Wooded Hillside Listening Down and Around (exterior)

Materials: white cotton thread, interior, exterior and liminal space, 7 kitchen knives, 7 electric guitar strings, white spray paint,

Of the works created during the residency, ‘Cat’s Cradle’ is perhaps the most complex piece, and the hardest to describe, both in terms of process and in its final form. There are several strands of thought running through this piece, and is the most conceptual and non-sound related work I have created to date. The initial concept for the piece was a direct result of my being detained at the hands of the British Transport Police when leaving King’s Cross Eurostar. I was thinking of a way of evoking an idea of a journey, and a means of expressing obstacles placed in the way of the traveller. This idea came from the concrete experience, but took on a different meaning as I explored the KHSB.


Locations: Node.london Festival, E:vent Gallery. Shoreditch, Ev*a Fringe Festival, Limerick
Worktype: Circuit-bent puppetry performance
Info: with theatre designer/puppeteer Barbara Fuchs and artist/circuit bender Spax (Joel Cahen).

Year: March 2006 – November 2006
Location: Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Worktype: 4-channel indeterminate electro-acoustic composition

3 versions iteratively produced over 2006.