sound appropriating space

Opening Sound Space / Rupert Huber

last night i was an interesting night for thinking about the use of sound to appropriate space.

it started with a series of performances for listening spaces, as part of the sound art program at ars electronica. of course i missed the first set trying to find something to eat without meat in it. which i’m still cross about – it included a perfomance of luigi nono’s la fabrica illuminata, which i only just heard about last week (thanks huw!).

but, after that i saw/experienced some brilliant works – two by arvo pärt that took place in a room where there is a water-based sound-wave visualisation work. both works, at either end of a long warehouse space, influenced the play of light onto a wall from the shimmering water. the light and water articulated the acoustic resonance of the music in terms of the space – it was perfect. for the first work i watched the performers and the space, for the second, just the space.

after that, we all went outside to listen to another work, in the ‘public’ space. it was amazing and shocking for me to see immediately that being ‘outside’ in ‘public’, all prior codes of music listening etiquette went out the window. people were walking around, drinking beer and eating, i was tweeting about it, people were talking, facing all kinds of directions and there was hardly any ‘attention’. there was no ‘performer’ as such, although the context was still within the frame of this series of sound perfomances.

i always knew that the place of the stage/frame and black box/white box was to bring people to attention, but i had never seen it contrasted and enacted so quickly. it was amazing.

next, we were in the sound space – part of the tabakfabrik that has been singled out as an amazing resonant space and within which a lot of minimal sound works have been played over the last few days – because of the amazing acoustics and reverb. rubert huber with franz hautzinger played a sound field, which i mainly experienced by lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling, letting the composition envelope me.

i noticed how people listening throughout these performances, and it was interesting to note the dynamics in this last spatial work. the traditional dynamic between performer/audience was rendered useless by the end and again, it was about the work and how it was experienced.

it started off with a stack of people facing the centre, where the instruments were. after half way (during which i had been lying down the whole time), i noticed that people who couldn’t “not-watch” had left, and the rest had found positions lying down on the floor, propped up against the wall, relaxing into their chairs and assuming positions more conducive to a non-visual attention.

right up my alley.

in fact, people were so relaxed that the last 5 minutes of a performance included a new bass-line: from a snoring member of the audience, which reverbed throughout the building. me and a couple of peeps almost wet ourselves repressing our laughter.

then, as a compliment, or adjunct to that on the way home, i was walking home through the empty streets of linz when a pair of drunks came walking down the hill, singing. i could hear them from about 500 metres away and it was such a beautiful sight – arm in arm, walking and singing some english pop song together. as we got closer, they didn’t even stop singing – we just waved at each other and they carried on belting out this tune, which carried through the whole city. i could hear them for about 500m after we passed too – i giggled my arse off the whole time.

i loved it! they were using the empty city as a perfect acoustic stage, again not for the audience/performance dynamic but for the work itself.

image thanks to rubra from flickr. i will upload my pics a bit later

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hangin’ out crafty in the back alleys of melbourne

ariadne's tangled mess: craft vic

for those of you who are in melbourne; and for those of you who perhaps walk down flinders st, perhaps you’ve seen a little mess hanging off the edge of a building on spark lane. a little discarded knot of cable, or thread? some kind of undealt with complexity left to swing in a dark alley?

well, if you haven’t, my work is installed at craft victoria, as an extension of the work in craft cubed, so check it out if you have the chance.

also, there’s a closing party for the craft-based festival next week: september 4th.

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society of the spectactle


this is going to be a good ol’ fashioned rant.
about football.

sorry to those not interested, or phased by the world cup. i’m even sorry to proper football fans – i’m one of those skeletons that comes out every 4 years for the cup ‘cos i love international football. i think that it has a unique role in public life.

anyway, the world cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. yes, kids, bigger than the olympics. FIFA has an economy greater than half the developing world * and it unites and divides countries and fans for 4 weeks every 4 years. every continent is represented and the rich don’t always dominate the poor, for once.

it. is. massive.

in the lead up to the australia v germany match, a few of us on twitter had been in contact with federation square, melbourne’s stand-out public viewing space, about screening the game/s on the big screen.
they said that the crowd was too big, they couldn’t handle it so no broadcast – birrarung marr was the back-up plan.
although why we didn’t all go to the a.mazing AAMI park (the caterpillar) i have no idea (public sport fail #1)

i thought it was stupid idea to leave that amazing screen empty for the event, but fine, ok. 11,000 people in fed square is shit anyway. but surely the other games would be on, right? 24 hour viewing space, room to be there, unite and celebrate sport and multi-culturalism, give the range of nationalities in our city a chance to gather, etc, etc. **

nope.

so far i have had to search through the streets of carlton for 45 minutes to see netherlands v denmark in a crappy dive pub;
the charles dickens was packed for the serbia v germany, so i trawled the pubs of the CBD, ending up in a tiny room, in a shitty pub blaring terrible music with 6 others. [in a pub that advertised ‘televising world cup 2010!!’];
each night i try untold types of p2p streams online – even just for the commentary.
i’ve now even decided to borrow a tv, so that i don’t have to wander the streets anymore like a harlot.

the games could all so easily have been screened at fed square [like the european championship games from 2 years ago].

i could have frequented that space regularly, for long periods of time, probably bought some greasy food, populated the space with my fellow fans, and made an amazing collective experience.
federation square could have been a real public space for a whole month. how’s about that!

and the city of melbourne could really have come alive as a city attuned with the rest of the world, all watching as one. **

epic fail. (public sport fail #2)

but, just so you don’t think i’m solely hawking on federation square or even the city of melbourne, let me whinge about the FFA and football culture in melbourne generally***.

i had to trawl the city on friday night, trying to find a place to watch the game which decided australia’s fate (germany v serbia). but i could watch the essendon/hawthorn afl match 1000 times over. what does this say to me? melbourne (and australia) is still, clearly, too focused on its own codes to give a fuck about truly international football.

and we’re supposed to be bidding for WC 2022.
you’ve got to be joking…

as sportsmen (and yes, it’s all men here) we are a self-centered, tunnel-visioned, small-minded bunch of kids. lord knows we need the world cup to actually broaden our minds, but as a race, we are not ready. we have no ability to see past our own noses, or hip-pockets. we would rather whinge and blame others. and that is not the mark of international sports (except maybe italy)

and the FFA have hardly contributed towards really facilitating football engagement in australia during this international football event. ****

i don’t have a TV, but these days that should not prohibit me from being able to watch football. i can’t find a decent live stream (paid or unpaid), SBS are streaming audio, but no video; the FFA have allowed Optus to monopolise the mobile platform for their customers (apparently it’s shit anyway), but there is no possible paying app to stream for the rest of the mobile market (competition law?).
And although i’m an Optus broadband customer, i still can’t access the broadcast.

Sport is a massive part of australian public culture. it has the potential to be used for fantastic connections instead of breeding pack-raping, drunk, hooligan fucktard footballers and commentators. But it seems that no-one is really ready to take action to make that happen through the world game. Least of all in melbourne.****

* i made that up. i think.
** i know, it sounds like corny advertising copy, but if you’ve never hugged a stranger when your team scores a goal, you will never understand.
***andrew demetriou and james merlino, i fart in your general direction.
**** and again.

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the sound i love most is silence

i love john cage. i derive a lot of my practice from what he speaks of and this video just made me fall in love with him all over again. AND he’s a cute boy with a cat.

the listening to the city project that i did last year looked at a whole bunch of these ideas: the act of listening without judgement to the city, the actual sound of traffic (although i think cage’s experience of traffic as silence is from behind the filter of 6 floors up and behind glass), and an engagement with the desire of silence and the means to obtain it.

his definition of sound acting is exactly what propels me to respond to sound through performance, action, occupation and installation-based works. my relationship with sound is a verb, not a noun.

just as a heads up, i’m giving a lecture on sound, listening and silence in the built environment next month, so don’t be surprised if there’s a few cage quotes in there.

thanks to nella for this one.

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into the white

into the white

last night i saw the pixies for the first time ever. i was in the UK when they toured here last time. and i was back in melbourne when they played in the UK. d’oh!

it was ecstatic, frenetic, uplifting, nostalgic, visceral, expansive and intimate – all at the same time.

within that quasi-public/private space, engaging with sound, music and shared acoustic space/taste, i noticed that standing in a crowd of people presents a particular experience of space. you get half-spaces, framed by the negative space of people’s silhouettes and together that makes up your total spatial experience. add to that an immense soundtrack over the top of it all and it’s quite a peculiar and indelible experience, irreplaceable.

viva la musica!

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the doors.

a.structure b.destruction c.an illusion d.all above

“But is he who opens a door and he who closes it the same being? The gestures that make us conscious of security, of freedom are rooted in a profound depth of being. Indeed, it is because of this ‘depth’ that they become so normally symbolical.”

gaston bachelard, poetics of space.

swoon! coming back to this book is like slipping on an old pair of tracky dacks: cliched, a little daggy, but oh-so-comforting.

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