Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 23

December 2013

Contents

Introduction

Environments

  • A Music out of Doors
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    The author describes the inspiration and influences behind his compositions, installations and performances, from solo work with voice and bells to performances in city centers with bells, horns, ship-alarms, sirens, groups of drummers, symphonic bands and cannons.

  • The Intimate and the Immersive in Grids: Multichannel Sound Installations
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    The author discusses his purpose-built visual and spatial environments that are designed to increase a listener's awareness of his or her sonic surroundings.

  • Three Environments
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    Most of the author's recent work has centered on the perception of environments and the human body's navigation through those environments, which has necessitated the construction of large-scale installations. So far, all but one of these installations have used sound as an integral component. The author believes that we, as both biological and cultural beings, live within three interlocking environments—the natural, the built and the media. This third is the newest, but certainly no less real than the other two.

  • Plasticities and Ghosts: Relationships between Stimulus and Memory in Noisy Networks
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    This paper examines aspects of neurological memory, rhythm and time within the works Ghost (Jane Grant) and Plasticity (Jane Grant, John Matthias, Nick Ryan and Kin).

Space

  • Solar Work #2: A Solar-Powered Sound Artwork
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    This paper describes the concept and realization of Solar Work #2, an outdoor, solar-powered sound artwork that responds to the sun, creating a field of small sounds and drawing visitors into the physical and sonic landscape.

  • Making Sculptures Audible through Participatory Sound Design
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    A research group explores rendering sculptural forms as sound using echolocation and the participation of members of the visually impaired community.

  • Presentness in Displaced Sound
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    The author discusses her works that explore sound's influence on creating a sense of presentness and her aim to increase the audience's awareness of this influence.

  • Mobile Sound and Locative Practice
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    The author discusses her work in relation to site-specific practice, embodied interaction and the practice of walking.

  • Radioscape: Into Electromagnetic Space
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    The author describes his use of radio waves in public spaces to create interactive sonic compositions in his project, Radioscape.

  • Listening to Locative Narratives: Illusion and the Imaginative Experience
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    The author discusses her research project Transition-Felt, an investigation of the development of locative narratives that informs the app The Letters.

  • Sound Resources: Environmental Installation
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    The author describes a recent sound installation that addresses an environmental issue as well as an issue with our sonic ecology.

  • Musical Phonography: Upending Listening Expectations
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    The author explores capturing and hearing music within a broader sound environment and the cultural and contextual information that this method can convey.

  • Sound Installation 24/7: Aestheticizing Everyday Sound and Rhythm
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    Featuring a set of microphones inside a dummy head situated within a gallery space, the author's installation 24/7 first records and later replays sounds sourced from within the space, representing past moments in time.

  • Fragments of Extinction: Acoustic Biodiversity of Primary Rainforest Ecosystems
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    This paper describes the conceptual origins and development of the author's ongoing environmental sound-art project Fragments of Extinction, which explores the eco-acoustic complexity of the remaining intact equatorial forests. Crossing boundaries between bioacoustics, acoustic ecology, electroacoustic technology and music composition, the project aims to reveal the ordered structures of nature's sonic habitats, define a possible model of compositional integration and make the outcome accessible to audiences to foster awareness on the current “sixth mass extinction.”

  • Sounds in Your Pocket: Composing Live Soundscapes with an App
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    The authors present their musical smartphone app that uses GPS data to trigger specific sound events relative to spots within an area predetermined by the artists. Moving through the area, users listen to these events via headphones, completing the soundscape composition. The article outlines the effects and the workings of the app, which combines elements of composition and installation, and which the artists have so far adapted to a number of different areas.

Techniques

  • Move That Sound There: Exploring Sound in Space with a Markerless Gestural Interface
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    The authors describe an artistic exploration of sound in space enabled by real-time computer vision algorithms that provide hand shape and 3D hand-tracking information.

  • Flexible Audio Speakers for Composition and Art Practice
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    The author presents a creative and technical practice using flat flexible audio speaker surface arrays. These arrays can be formed to various environments, offer diverse design possibilities and allow for user interaction. This practice provides an alternative to traditional models of sound reproduction by considering how visual and physical material could be construed as sound itself. Taken as art material, these surface array systems open up unique possibilities for acoustic spaces, composition and sound interactivity.

  • Instruments of Tension: Gramophones, Springs and the Performance of Place
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    The authors discuss Chronography: animal, a live electroacoustic work based on sound recordings Needham gathered in Antarctica in 2009, along with related works.

History and Criticism

  • Rakes, Live Deaths and Modified Cassette Players: Three Contemporary Sound Artists from Colombia
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    Sound art activity in Colombia has proliferated in the last decade, as evidenced by the considerable number of shows focusing on sound works by Colombian artists in recent years. The author presents three artists—Rodrigo Restrepo, Leonel Vásquez and Ícaro Zorbar—each of whom represents a distinct point in the continuum between music and sound art. The artists' individual and distinct approaches to the use of technology and their very personal conceptions of space and time are discussed.

  • Recomposing the City: A Survey of Recent Sound Art in Belfast
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    This article introduces examples of recent sound art in Belfast, a city that has undergone radical transformation over the past decade and is home to a burgeoning community of sound artists. The text investigates the ways in which sonic art can redraw boundaries in a city historically marked by myriad political, socioeconomic, religious and sectarian divisions. The article focuses on sound works that reimagine a “post-conflict” Belfast. These include site-specific sound installations in urban and public spaces, soundwalks, sculptures, locative and online works, and experimental sonic performances that draw upon traditional Irish song and music.

  • (Demolishing) Concrete Music
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    The article addresses two pieces of sound art that incorporate field recordings from the site of the Berlin Wall, during the deconstruction of its concrete presence in East Germany. The author examines two pieces as a case study for the consideration of the historical potential of soundscapes and proposes that the developing genre possesses the capability to preserve the sound of history, in ways that are not possible with written sources. The potential problems associated with the works' reevaluation as historical sources and further works that would benefit from similar reconsideration are discussed.

  • From Ear to Site: On Discreet Sound
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    The notion of discreet sound arises through the encounter of the sonic avant-garde with the post-studio methods of the field of sculpture: a distinctive, situational aesthetics that aspires to relocate, and sometimes to disperse, the listening experience within the varied spaces of everyday life. In sound art, however, there seems a predominant interest in the sounding object as an experience delivered to the audience through indoor modalities. By comparing these two tendencies, this article observes some of the implications for the ways in which we think about the site and modes specific to listening practices.

  • Translating Transformations: Object-Based Sound Installations
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    This paper defines the object-based sound installation as a distinct category of sound art that emerges from the intersection of live musical performance and the sonic possibilities of the recording studio. In order to contextualize this emergent category, connections are drawn among the rationalization of the senses, automated musical instruments, the lineage of recorded sound and the notion of absolute music. This interwoven history provides the necessary backdrop for the interpretation of three major works by Steven Reich, Alvin Lucier and Zimoun. These respective pieces are described in order to elucidate the ways in which object-based sound installations introduce embodied visibility into the transformative gestures of sound reproduction.

  • Dead Silence: Ecological Silencing and Environmentally Engaged Sound Art
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    Silencing and musicalization, as defined by Douglas Kahn, are valuable means to call attention to the sonically liminal. They create a frame within which acoustic silence can be attended to, either as a conceptual phenomenon or as the dead silence of sounds and soundmakers subjected to ecological silencing. Through critical discussion of silence in Kahn's writing on John Cage, as well as in acoustic ecology and soundscape composition, an outline of ecological silencing is developed and applied through the examination of environmentally engaged sound works by Sally Ann McIntyre of New Zealand and Katie Paterson of Great Britain.

  • World on a Wire: Sound as Sensual Objects
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    In the mid-20th century a new conceptual paradigm rose to prominence in the sciences that captured the imaginations of the burgeoning counterculture and its most forward-thinking artists. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, a branch of systems theory called cybernetics was presented as a way to understand complex systems. Cybernetic thought has continued to exert a hegemonic, if unintended, influence in the field of experimental and technology-driven arts. The author argues that the idealistic and techno-utopian character of cybernetic thought, including the holistic view of emergence, does not serve us in grave political and ecological times and suggests new ways to understand emergence in sound art that are free of the ideological baggage of cybernetic thought.

  • “Electric Music” on the Victorian Stage: The Forgotten Work of J.B. Schalkenbach
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    This paper provides an overview of electrical pre-loudspeaker sound art in Victorian music halls, focusing on key figures, including one of the first female performers of an electrical musical instrument. Control of “acoustic incidents” separate from the artiste and the employment of artful presentation to create an aesthetic edifice—prerequisites of sound art—are apparent in the entertainments examined here. It is shown that the issues of today's sound art (in reconciling science with art, the coveting of the “active principle,” etc.) were also a concern in these early sound art ventures.

On-Line Supplement: Sound Art Theories Symposium

LMJ 23 CD Companion

CD Contributors' Notes

2013 Leonardo and Leonardo Music Journal Author Index

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