Accepted Papers with Abstracts (in order of paper number and with author’s own submitted titles and links)
Curating Sounds as Objects of Culture and Human Agency: A Case Study of The Museum of Portable Sound
In the introduction to the book Keywords in Sound (2015), authors David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny describe a tension existent within their editorial perspective for the book’s lexicon of keywords in sound studies. The authors suggest that the conflicts between their experiences in anthropology and musicology helped guide their approach to the subject of sound. Anthropology, they suggest, ‘reframes sound as an object of culture and human agency’ (5), which creates a tension with musicology’s lengthy history establishing ‘systems of sonic production and analysis.’ My own creative practice conceptualises sound in the anthropological sense described by Novak and Sakakeeny; this culturally-centred perspective inspired me to establish The Museum of Portable Sound (MOPS), an institution that attempts to exhibit sounds as museological objects by presenting visitors with digital audio file ‘objects’ organised into ‘galleries’, i.e. albums on a single mobile phone. After more than five hundred MOPS visits, this paper will present my preliminary findings from this experiment, focusing on sound’s potential as the basis for a new, museological sound object-based curatorial practice.
BIO: John Kannenberg is a multimedia artist, researcher, and writer currently writing his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Arts London. He serves as the Director and Chief Curator of London’s Museum of Portable Sound. More information about his work can be found at johnkannenberg.com.
Material Indeterminacy and de-centered Practice
Scott Mc Laughlin is an Irish composer and improviser based in Huddersfield, UK. He studied BMus (Uni of Ulster), MA/PhD Uni of Huddersfield. He lectures in composition and music technology at the University of Leeds. His research focuses on contingency and indeterminacy in the physical materiality of sound and performance.
ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SOUND ART, MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY IN LATIN AMERICA
Who tells history? Who knows about it or who has the opportunity to do it? We can find multiple versions of the history of music created with electronic technologies, most of those with subtle differences, but it has been unusual to find references pointing to countries out of a small group from Europe and North America. Can we change the way history is being told? Do we have something different to tell? Why should we invest time and effort on it? The Latin American Electroacoustic Music Collection, is an example of the impact that the archival of electronic artworks and its public access can play in having another perspective about history.
Dr. Ricardo Dal Farra (email@example.com) is a composer, media artist, curator, and historian. He is professor at Concordia University, Canada, and director of the CEIArtE-UNTREF Electronic Arts Research Centre, Argentina. His music has been presented in about 40 countries. He is the founder of the Balance-Unbalance and Understanding Visual Music international conference series. Dal Farra has been coordinator of the Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage (DOCAM) international research alliance, and researcher and consultant for UNESCO in France, De Montfort University in the UK, Amauta in Peru, and the National Ministry of Education in Argentina.
Deception: convergence of spaces brings context to time
THE VERTICAL EAR : CHARTING THE WHITE SPACES OF LISTENING
duration: 35 minutesMy lecture-opera continues from the legacy of the composer and eminent researcher into listening Pauline Oliveros. In this minimalist multimedia performance I embark on a journey into the blank spaces of feminist listening, as a composing explorer and academic researcher. My ears become political instruments of perception to deeply and critically observe myself and the culture I am part of. Instead of travelling on the surface, I explore the vertical dimension to find unknown aural territories. Listening as composing, I probe into silence and into human interaction, into words and beyond words. I listen into the understructures of the visible and to the noise of mind. Composing and performing, I report on my discoveries, while descending into the dark depths of social interactions and my own thinking process. Mind is vocal. It cannot be shut off. With electronics, instrument, video, and voice I chart a map of vertical aural terrains.
As I move into white soundspaces, time stops and space widens.
The sonic resonances of algorithms as cultural productions and aesthetic expressions.
Algorithms can for the most part not be heard, but in the case of intelligent personal assistant software, they are given a sonic materiality and tangibility through synthesized voices (Phan 2017).
Synthetic voices, artificial voices generated by algorithms, have become ever more ubiquitous in our everyday lives and can be heard in buses, on trains, GPS devices, from mobile phones, or when interacting with social robots. The history of synthesized voices can be argued to demonstrate the entanglement of sound, art and science (Wilson 2002; Scha 1992). Synthesized voices are today developed through collaborations between sound designers, programmers and engineers and throughout history artists and composers have found a source of inspiration in the artificial sound of voices, as well as critically reflected upon synthesized voices and their resonances as cultural productions and aesthetic expressions. Even though there has been many artistic experiments with synthesized voices, they are discussed mainly in connection to optimization of vocabulary size, processing capacity, algorithmic functionality and with comparatively little attention to the aesthetics expressions, cultural productions and politics of representation.
In this paper I will discuss artistic investigations of the aesthetics and politics of synthesized voices (as tangible algorithmic processes) and address questions such as: What happens when algorithms and data are sonified and imbued with voices and personalities? What are the resonances of algorithms as cultural productions and aesthetic expressions?
site – body – resonance
Creating site-specific sound art activates and expands the concept of sound presentation. The physical world and the spaces used for sound performance and installation, are here not passive structures. The paper will take its departure in two examples of the authors own and collaborate work, where the above factors of site, body and resonance are essential. It wishes to discuss how architectural structures and other active elements play an equally important role, which can be seen in the light of new materialist philosophy and the impact of non-human agents in events.Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen is a Danish, Berlin-based independent artist, researcher and curator, who works in the intersection between performance art, sound and media. She has an education from the College of Arts Crafts and Design in Nørresundby (DK), and holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Aarhus University (DK). http://tmkm.dk/
TMS: movement(al) distortion(s)
movement(al) distortion(s) is an experimental noise concert, where inputs of objects and body(triggered) sounds are transformed and distorted through the use of analog electronic manipulation. The sources and inputs come from the interaction of the two performers, where sounds from objects, surfaces and architectural structures of the space are feed into the piece through the use of piezo microphones. These feed-ins happen live and run through various effect pedals and other self-created DIY manipulators, creating a dynamic noisescape.
TMS is an experimental noise project by the Berlin-based artists Malte Steiner (DE) and Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen (DK). The format of the project is improvisational site-specific sound pieces and concerts built out of Steiner and Madsen’s sonic interactions, where complex structures emerge from intense layering of various sonic in- and outputs. http://tms.tmkm.dk
Curating the Soundscape on Radio
Informed by my own experience of curating a series of soundscape programs within the framework of a community radio station in Berlin, I am proposing the soundscape on radio as a tool for sounding out both technological perceptions of the resonant world, and epistemological framings for understanding, interpreting, and challenging this world.
You can listen to The Ear Has To Travel here: https://cashmereradio.com/shows/the-ear-has-to-travel/
Katharina Schmidt is a songwriter and researcher based in Berlin. Other work includes music for experimental film, works for radio, and sound art. For more information you are welcome at www.katharina-schmidt.net
Steel Girls: Momentum of the metal realm (2017) / Performance for Metal Objects, Electronics and Analog Synthesizer
Steel Girls make metal speak in a practical, simple form, which makes sensual poetry possible. It is not just about the charm of production, like welding as performance, but also about the challenge of acoustics, the exhaustion of acoustic possibilities with and without electronics. The rawness is shaped and not standardized, the proportions are pushed into the light so that the sparks fly and something new can arise.
Steel Girls find beauty in metal found on scrapyards or at the tinner, rephrasing the meaning, revealing a radical musical context.
About Steel Girls
Angelica Castello (MX),Tobias Leibetseder (AT) and Astrid Schwarz (AT) are composers and sound artists living in Vienna, Austria. They started playing together 15 years after their first encounter at an electronic music festival where all of them performed in different ensembles. Since then they have performed in different settings, always trying out new metal surroundings and working on creating their own metal instruments.
Repertories of (in)discreetness – Curating Radio Free Europe’s archives (working title)
“Repertories of (in)discreetness” project had its starting point in the archive of Radio Free Europe from the Open Society Archivum in Budapest. The project main aim was to question the act and mechanisms of archiving “the Other”, with a focus on the European “East”. The project discusses the ways in which information was collected and transferred, the ways in which the East has gained an epistemic body through refraction, the way in which the ideological positions were defended through radio broadcasting. Thus we pointed out the relation between the nature and the production of knowledge, the construction of the propaganda discourse and their sound identities, as well as the broadcasting’s infrastructure set up.
Radio Free Europe is considered unique in the annals of international broadcasting: acting as surrogate domestic broadcaster for the nations under Communism. It also relied on local official media and informal news in order to broadcast what was considered objective information. It performed political transcending journalism while anxiously developing a large research apparatus for systematizing knowledge about subjects which were its audience at the same time. Being in a circular relationship with propaganda (decoding it and afterwards monitoring its reactions within an on-going cycle), it was also giving shape to an inaccessible public, instantiated as the East. Acting as objective disseminator, it was nevertheless embedded within a theatre of conflicting and yet complementary, mutating knowledge.
The curatorial project had investigated not just the interaction with the past, but also the possibilities of extricating ourselves from its conceptual-political frame which was (in)forming while trying to control. The project combined old and new media and used sound, video and situations as forms of deconstruction and rendering visible the invisibility, engaging the visitors in the production of knowledge and the use of informational dilemmas. An art research project in the frame of a radio archive, imposed a double curation: that of art works and that of documentary materials used for the art projects.
Irina Botea-Bucan and Jon Dean’s “General mood” is a film that embodies a performative archive through exploring the process of categorization and anecdotal information gathering that constitutes much of the Radio Free Europe archive. The category of ‘General Mood’ is explored through questioning the structure and content of research methodologies designed to create ‘national pictures’. On-line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKvsLDeYG1E.
Tincuta Heinzel and Lasse Scherffig’s “Signal to Noise” installation made use of radio interference in order to re-enact the technological situation of RFE broadcasting. The interference phenomena was used by the communist authorities in order to jam the RFE broadcasting. The minimal and non-visual set-up is composed of two radio stations using the same frequency which intersect and neutralize into a virtual line crossing the space of the exhibition. By broadcasting simultaneously curated programs of running back then at the same time/in parallel Radio Free Europe and Radio Romania, the two transmissions will interfere and effectively jamming each other. On-line: http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~thm21/ICLI_proceedings/2016/Practical/Installations/9_Scherffig.pdf .
Istvan Laszlo’s “Ghost Veil” was a project that functioned as a time machine. It created a temporal loop, which becomes visible by activating a carousel slide projector. The starting point was a selection of photographs from The Open Society Archives (OSA) Budapest, all taken in the second half of the 20th century Eastern Europe. The images were digitally manipulated and finally printed back on celluloid. By showing the reworked old pictures in an analogue way, an authentication is effectuated. Through this technical reversal, the documentation of the past becomes an investigation of the present. New meanings are conferred by the intervention that hides monuments and public sculptures.
“The Blind, the Bats and the Radar:” Acoustic Feedback in Postwar Sensory Models
In his seminal manifesto “The Theory of Tactile Vision” (1955), Spanish filmmaker José Val del Omar expounded the need for a new form of vision that overcame the effects of spectacular media on the subject. Val del Omar wanted new optical media to foster a form of human vision similar to the sensory capacity of the blind, the bats or the radar, which, according to him, substituted optics with a “tactile pulsatory system.” This understanding heavily drew from research on sound in different fields. First, it relied on experimentation in acoustic orientation in the blind during the early 1940s. Second, it was attentive to the theories demonstrating the use of ultrasounds in bats’ navigation that had emerged since the turn of the century. And third, it was deeply influenced by the massive implementation of–and popular fascination with–radio and radar technologies following the Spanish Civil War and World War II. These three phenomena were based on the production and reception of acoustic or electromagnetic signals as a form of environmental recognition: what came to be identified as echolocation. This paper unveils how new postwar theories of vision made use of scientific models of acoustic feedback, extending the logics, technologies and subjectivities associated with sound to new emerging optical media. It argues that, in a scenario where the deeper penetration of sound waves seemed to better attune to the surveillance logics of a militarized world, sound was privileged in the construction of new postwar sensory theories.
In order to unveil the importance of developments in sound research in postwar sensory models, this paper takes as its main case study the writing, cinema and art of José Val del Omar (1904-1982), mainly developed under the Francoist dictatorship (1939-1975). Both in his individual career and institutional engagement with Francoist institutions like the Ministerio de Información y Turismo [Ministry of Information and Tourism] and Television Española [Spanish Television], Val del Omar sought to rethink the perceptual, environmental and political conditions of the radiophonic, cinematic and televisual apparatuses. After the defeat of the Popular Front in the Spanish Civil War, Val del Omar was tasked with the construction of the Circuito Perifónico, an urban propaganda broadcasting system in Valencia. Though he was originally a filmmaker, the lack of film material and technology in Spain during the 1940s forced him to turn to sound practices. In the mid-1940s, Val del Omar patented a variant of stereophonic sound systems called “Diaphony.” In 1948, he founded the Laboratory on Electroacoustic Experimentation in Radio Nacional de España [Spanish National Radio]. And during the late 1940s and early 1950s, he worked under the auspices of the National Spanish Organization of Blind People [Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos de España, ONCE] to develop sound gadgets for the visually impaired. This paper inspects how, when returning to filmic practices in the 1950s, Val del Omar’s visually powerful production was inflected by the consideration of vision as physically analogous to sound, posing this process as exemplary of postwar art practices.
Expanded Object: Rereading the History of Sound Art
Live Curation: A Methodology Towards A New Platform for the Reception of Art
The curation of art exhibitions is an integral part of understanding what, where and how contemporary art and society operates today. As an independent artist-curator I am interested in transgressing traditional acts of curation, demystifying and resituating the role of the curator within the live moment.
Live Curation thus can be conceived of as a epistemological methodology, which creates a localised ecology between art, artists and art audiences that offers the opportunity to explore macro issues in a micro ecology. I argue this method accelerates what art is and is ‘becoming’ whilst also challenging the boundaries of authenticity through a vital materialistic and agential realist sensibility.
In this paper, I will specifically focus on how resonance operates in real-time, analysing what occurs between artist-curator, sonic artwork and audience during a live-curated exhibition. Therefore, I will introduce my own approach to the methodology live curation, by deconstructing the impact of curating ephemerality as opposed to traditional modes of curatorial practice (whereby an exhibition is curated through months or years of planning and co-ordination to enable the curator to pre-determine how the exhibition space will position a combination of seemingly static or solid objects) and instead propose a rhizomatic approach that generates an ensemble of phenomena.
I will question how artist-curators and audiences work collaboratively to produce a diffractive ethnographic view of art, artworks and the art world, and propose that acts of live curation forge a sociological and epistemological resonance between these stakeholders, which enables and qualifies art-viewers as participants and active agents in the curation and reception of exhibitions and artworks.
Aaron James is a London-based artist, DJ, curator and researcher.
He has received commissions from leading european art institutions such as Tate, Arnolfini, National Galleries Scotland and Mo.E and has performed as a DJ for various brands and venues through his critically acclaimed event series Future History.
As an independent researcher, Aaron is currently working on a practice-as-research project entitled Live Curation: A Methodology Towards a New Platform for the Reception of Art. This explores whether the artist as curator and the audience as active agents in the curation of an exhibition, can curate an exhibition live and explicate art and curatorial knowledge relationally.
He is currently producing and co-curating Assembly of Disturbance with industrial pioneers Test Dept, which is also the first major event of the recently founded Institute of Sonic Art.
Chthonic: 72 Hours below Earth Day
John Bowers has a varied academic background having made contributions to research in psychology, sociology, computer science, and art and design. He is also a sound and inter-media artist who works with modular synthesisers, home-brew electronics, and reconstructions of antique image and sound-making devices, alongside contemporary digital technology.
Peter Matthews is an environmental engineer (with an interest in investigating ways of generating electricity from the limited resources of the mine).
Alan Smith creates live events, performance and audio/video installations that use appropriated texts and sound which subtly shift the security of apparent normality. His practice merges with his curatorial role at Allenheads Contemporary arts.
Louise K Wilson is an artist and lecturer (University of Leeds). Her work frequently involves the participation of individuals from industry, museums, medicine and the scientific community in its making.
Resonant Hermeneutics: Breaking the Silence of Silent Reliances Using “Wet Machines” Hybrid Musical Instruments To Explore, Experience and Understand Ex Vivo Human Skin Cultures.
We describe a specific device developed to explore these interior worlds, a form of “Wet Machine”, defined by four main features. Firstly, an ex vitro growing environment for living human cell cultures. Secondly, an acoustic focusing flow-cell also used as a sound source. Thirdly, grouped DPSS laser arrays and sensors to measure resonance/defraction within the cell cultures. Fourthly, a custom built analog synthesiser with digital modulation to generate polyphonic sonifications and human rhythms. The cultures of human skin and blood were taken by biopsy from the artist ********* and Professor of Dermatology and Immunology, *********. The arrays of lasers induced resonance with and refraction of laser light from cell markers, a principle derived from laser cell flow cytometry. In this device, measurements of sameness were derived from resonance and difference from defraction to characterise cells. The resulting spectra were then explored in the frequency domain and converted to harmonics within the range of human hearing, generating both real time and retrospective sonifications of the constituent human cells comprising the cultures.
We describe how we developed several iterations of the device over a series of workshops and performances and how we have come to see this project as giving voice to “silent reliances” using resonance and refraction. Silent Reliances are a Latourian notion encompassing unseen, hidden, unknown and undetected processes that are essential for our existence. Notions of the hidden relate to Graham Harman’s concept of Object Orientated Philosophy. Specifically, where objects cannot be exhaustively explored or known through single or even multiple encounters. Using these techniques and in this mode we are able to further actualise parts of these ex vivo human skin cultures developing a Resonant Hermeneutics.
“Oxx” is a sound performance that explores the resonating characteristics of physical objects, when vibrated and used as propagation medium for sound. The transduction process imprints it’s own non-transparency, making the medium not only path, but message.
Magno Caliman (Brazil)
Originally trained as a classical composer at the conservatory, but with a background as a hardcore/death metal guitarist, now presents itself as a sound artist and multimedia performer, with a focus on the intersection between art and technology. Is interested in the construction, modification and manipulation of electronic circuits; and the embracing of programming languages as places for poetical speculation. Currently writing a book/web learning environment for digital audio and creative coding. Teaches at the Parque Lage Visual Arts School in Rio de Janeiro, where is responsible for classes in programming, interactivity, sound design and hardware hacking.