Brandon LaBelle on Max Neuhaus
This was my first and favorite of the three readings.
In LaBelle’s description of Neuhaus’ Time Piece (1983), which ran on a 20-minute cycle where “the pitch of sounds were altered, and their location within the present was shifted by delaying their transmission,” I am most interested in how the piece “begin[s] with silence, then increase[s] the additional sonorous layer, only to remove it in a way so as to heighten consciousness of what is already there.” <<This may apply to my recorded rustling of seed pods to call attention to the actual/live sounds of seed pods in the space.>>
While I do not yet know how I would directly apply this concept to my work, I am pondering LaBelle’s reference to Pauline Oliveros and Roland Barthe that “hearing is a physiological condition whereas listening is a psychological act.” Lots of implications.
Something else from La Belle I am turning over in my head: “To hear ‘many places at once as one rather than many’ (Oliveros) is to piece together multiple threads of information, assembling narrative out of disparate elements” <<As part of the larger piece I am working on has narrative elements, thinking about alternate ways of relaying the story/stories is of definite interest.>>
I admit I was grateful for the extended comparison to Gordon Matta-Clark, since this gave me the crutch of grasping onto something visual to better understand the sonic concepts LaBelle explored. I also quite like LaBelle’s observation that “architecture frees the individual and traps him or her at the same moment.”
This reading spurred me to explore the Neuhaus website, and I now have a warm fuzzy for his beautifully simple colored pencil drawings accompanied by poetic descriptions, in which he speaks of sound in terms of color and illumination. If interested, you may view them here: http://www.max-neuhaus.info/drawings/circumscription/
Modeling the Shopping Soundscape
Shopping malls are one of my least favorite public spaces, and I can only begin to imagine the complexity of attempting to place art – sound/visual/whatever – within one.
I find it impossible to tell from the video documentation if Urban Sound Institute (USIT)’s Stockholm project was successful in executing the client’s wish for “clear spatial demarcations as a transparent sound space, with a clear-cut boundary between Gallerian’s soundscape and the sound installation.” According to the subtitles, an older woman toward the beginning states, “Ett avgränsat rum av ljud.” I ran this through free translation and got “A delimited rooms of sound.” However, none of the other seated people in the video seem to be aware of the sound component of the piece (they mostly appear tired from shopping), and the walkers do not slow down to listen as they are crossing through the space. I am not alleging the piece was not successful. Perhaps the tired-looking seated people are receiving some kind of sonic revitalization, which will then give them an energetic boost to continue spending money, seemingly one of the client’s goals. Based on the written description of the project – specifically under ‘Phase 4 – Installation’ – I am more convinced of a “sound space…form[ing]…a transparent architecture in the existing environment.” Then again, by USIT’s own admission, 70-80 percent of visitors did not realize they were in the midst of a sound installation.
This therefore begs the question, how is it possible to successfully document the sonic experience of a project like this? Perhaps interviewing people who have just experienced the piece, unwittingly or not?
Site-Specific Sound Installations in the Urban Environment
I am not interested in the semantics of labeling different types of art. I have nothing against the term ‘sound art’ in the same way I have nothing against the term ‘video art’ or ‘land art’ and I do not agree with Maria Andueza that such labels “impoverish” artwork. I also do not understand why Max Neuhaus was against the term ‘sound art’ but coined the term ‘sound installation’ – mrow? I found the rest of the reading to be more engaging…
I am interested in Antonin Artaud’s ambitious description of The Theatre of Cruelty (1938) that “between life and the theatre there will be no distinct division, but instead a continuity.” I am equally intrigued by the idea of “Not escaping from reality but toward reality” from Wolf Vostell’s 1964 manifesto, In Ulm, around Ulm and round about Ulm (excerpted by Andueza). However, I believe the ‘reality’ of a location can change given the time of day (and season/weather, which I assume Vostell took into account), the mood of the visitor, the company of the visitor, and so on. Even if you and I visit the same location on the same day/time, my reality may not be yours.
I really love Kevin Lynch’s approach to planning (apparently unusual in the 1950s) by “thinking about urbanism from the experience of the citizens (Andueza)” and I think I understand where Adueza is going when she brings up Lynch’s “melodic structure” description for the motion of a city, but I have a hard time swallowing Henri Lefebvre’s notion that “in the modern city there was a lack of temporal references” and therefore “people could hardly experience time in their daily lives except at work (Andueza).” Why – according to Lefebvre – does movement in space such as “the elevation of the sun above the horizon” not count as keeping track of time? What am I missing here?
Since I mentioned documentation and interviews above, I was happy to find this video of Bill Fontana’s Panoramic Echoes that I feel gives a fairly good sense of what the piece was like, with the help of spectator interviews. That said, I did not experience Panoramic Echoes in person, so I am merely speculating: http://araayer.com/commercial/sound-sculpture/#id=album-36&num=235
chosen site for an as yet untitled piece (to exist within An Experimental Space for Reconnection with the Natural World)
I desire to deconstruct the idea that nature is ‘out there’ when we might consider we are all connected to and part of one living system, the planet Earth. Experimental Space will seek to push the envelope of what we currently accept as our collectively constructed reality by imagining other worlds we might inhabit, through the lens of dreaming.
While exploring this idea in the realm of public space is a future goal, I must first learn what a reconnection with the natural world in the built environment means to me on a personal level. For this reason, I have chosen the site of the small house where I am living, as this is a place I am intimately connected with in both the waking world, and on the astral plane.
The content of the work will engage the location I have chosen in two ways: 1) by modulating prerecorded everyday sounds through distortion and amplification, and 2) by imagining transitional architectural sounds, in terms of navigating from waking world to dream state, and back again. By ‘transitional architectural sounds’ I mean imagining what it might sound like for a building to come to life, possibly attempting some type of communication with the inhabitant(s).