Welcome to the November issue of Networked Music Review Newsletter, a monthly review of some of the many events archived on Networked_Music_Review [to receive this via email, subscribe here].
Each month for several months now I’ve talked about the number of NMR blogs that deal with sound art, the wide range of practices – sound sculptures, sound installations, performances, environments, to mention only four - and the increasing use of non-musical sounds. I will do the same again, referencing some of the many sound works that were blogged in November.
Among those dealing with "new" sounds – i.e. sounds beyond human perception that are brought into conscious awareness by the artist’s work – are Fire Organ by Michel Moglia, an instrument that transforms heat from the flame of a fire into sound; and Katie Patterson’s Ice Records. Paterson brought back sounds and water from three melting glaciers in Iceland. The sounds were pressed into three LP records – ice creaking, cracking, hissing. After several months of experimentation, molds were made from them using a very sensitive casting technique – the meltwater from those same glaciers was poured into those molds and frozen, creating ‘ice records’, which were then played on three turntables, playing the sounds of the melting glaciers from whence the water/ice had come – playing out the dissolving landscape.
Other works focused on environmental sound and acoustic ecology, such as Peter Cusack’s Sounds from Dangerous Places, which examines the soundscapes of sites of major environmental damage such as Chernobyl and the Azerbaijan oil fields.
Or Mikro, a series of improvised performances by HC Gilje and Justin Bennett, in which contact microphones and electromagnetic sniffers pick up "unhearable" sounds in the environment to create the live soundtracks.
For those who may find the variety of sound works referenced in the blog confusing – are they music or not? – this month also includes a blog on a new book from MIT Press, Understanding the Art of Sound Organization, by Leigh Landy that tries to make its way through what the author calls "the marshland of terminology" in which sound works are currently bogged down (pun intended). He proposes the first general foundational framework for the study of the art of sound organization, defines terms, discusses relevant forms of music, categorizes works, and sets sound-based music in interdisciplinary contexts.
Finally, the increasing presence of sound in visual arts productions and the proliferation of visual and media practices in which sound is central to the meaning are very much in evidence. The following are a few instances from this month’s blog:
Symphony for 54 Shoes by Ingrid Bachmann, a kinetic sculpture that involves 27 pairs of shoes collected from a variety of second hand and thrift stores, each with a toe and heel tap attached to it that produce the sound of tapping shoes;
Jean-Pierre Aubé’s Nocturne, a work for a lighthouse, two photoelectric cells and eight LEDs that draws you into its quiet beauty;
Flocking Orchestra (aka DT1) by Tatsuo Unemi and Daniel Bisig – an interactive installation that employs flocking algorithms to produce music and visuals;
And Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Killing Machine and Other Stories (1995-2007), which features 11 installations that weave together independent but complementary experiences. Each piece moves to its own time and rhythm, uniting sound with moving image in order to produce stories that live side by side in time.
An article, Lost in Translation: Sound in the Discourse of Synaesthesia by Christoph Cox, sheds some light on this ongoing phenomenon and the reevaluation of the senses and their traditional hierarchy that accompanies it.
Finally, the November blog contains our plea for support. If you value the work we are doing – here, on Networked_Performance, or on Turbulence.org – please contribute.