Monday, 1 December 2008

***Audio Forensics @ I M T + Electra

Audio Forensics
MA in Sound Arts graduate show

University of the Arts : London College of Communication
Venue: I M T,
Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road,London, E2 9NQ

Contact: 020 8980 5475 (for booking)

Comprising of ambitious works by nine artists who employ sound as the principle media of their practice, Audio Forensics demonstrates the breadth of engagement with sound in the arts, and how it can be re-evaluated in the context of an increasingly noisy world.
Sound art encompasses a wide range of forms and concerns and has its precedence across many creative fields, yet, as these artists demonstrate, the acknowledgment of sound’s significance in the arts is becoming of greater importance as technologies develop, and as the public become ever more aware of the interactions between sound, space and artistic practice.
Audio Forensics provides an extraordinarily comprehensive inquiry into how sound, and its manipulation, influences our experience and understanding of our environment.Audio Forensics is an exhibition and symposium presenting the final work of the first MA Sound Arts graduates of London College of Communication. The groundbreaking work in the exhibition demonstrates the high level of critical debate in sonic disciplines fostered by the university’s Department of Sound Art and Design since 1998.
The exhibition is co-curated by Electra and IMT

Artists & Exhibits:

Libero Colimberti ~ Frame 2008
Short film (7mins)
A sound film installed in the bathroom and projected backwards through various reflections on to tiles, walls and ceiling showing a digital clock countdown from 7.00.00mins and subtitles of what is being heard - sometimes in the form of a script, as in (passerby) you won't kill yourself jumping from that height. The sound sweeps us through a huge narrative of a fight between two lovers with him on the ledge threatening suicide - gripping and for a time compelling in the possibility that we are about to actually hear someone die. Being locked away listening to this in the bathroom is perfect - simultaneously safely away from the conflict going on 'outside' and redolent with imagined self-violence - pills, drowning, razor blades, broken glass to cut with, slippery surfaces to fall from …

Jan Hendrickse ~ Harmonic Motion: Composition for Prepared Bass Guitar and Fans 2008
Prepared bass guitars and fans
Quirky and gentle and fun - i loved having to go 'looking' for its sound hidden within the sweep of sound i had already triggered from Dear Dust

Simone Izzi ~ The Emperor's Mind 2008
Mixed media installation

Nitin Lachhani ~ Bhagvapad 2008 Polymer rapid prototype 232mm x 350mm x 10mm; Gautam 2008 100% Dense titanium rapid prototype and vero white, 200mm x 200mm x 100mm; Brhaspati 2008 Glass, polyurethane resin, iron filings, 500mm x 500mm x 10mm

Luc Messinezis ~ Wunderkammer: The Sound Cabinet of Curiosities 2008
Sound installation

Maria Papadomanolaki ~ Trajectory 2008
Performance; video documentation
An intriguing and captivating piece that we loved and that i’ll have to come back to write about when i have time:
audience in gallery – different people wearing headphones and microphone walking to gallery describing what they see and following text instructions from the gallery.

Vytis Puronas ~ Dear Dust 2008
Interactive video projection and sound
sound of breathing that for me was all about the sound of the sea and kinaesthetically worked its image of floating 'dust' and wind-blown hair watching it with the fan blowing the guitar sounds

Mark Shorey ~ 8.5 2008
Mixed media installation; video documentation
the image for the poster is from 8.5 and see his video documentaion on his website @

Mark Peter Wright ~ A Quiet Reverie 2008
Headphone installation (18mins)

The star of the show for us – an exceptional experience for all the fullness and its space it gives in the listening.
A table with four clear plastic 'coffins' each containing dried materials from the four ruined sites and perched up on soil from them - leaves feathers stone shell flowers berries cones - all dry and dead but still resonating with remembered-imagined life

The 18 min 'psycho phonography' moves and moves us through a fragile deeply felt sonic narrative that for me was an oscillation of flickering images, fleeing associations and pooled moments of intense presence. The sounds move through ‘stone’ ~ a sort echoed resonant cascade of resonating troubled air - or the noise of ‘dust’ banging (to steal language from another exhibit) - through ‘water’ ~ coming in soft rain which we can know and name but without losing any magic from this literal recognition and making its narrative of 'textured time' (to steal language again) ~ listening in to water moving and feeling both the heightened immediacy of each water soundfall and simultaneously the inexhaustible stretched out continuum of time beyond life, lives, living. Then 'wing' and the choral backchat of birdsong going abrasive and scarring and making me think of living systems of immortal species as the uncaring witnesses to human insubstantiality and transience. Then through 'blood' ~ a swelling of sound rushing throbbing bringing up a sonorously chiming alarm coming through a crackle of rainfall that I first took to be fire ~ and lastly 'mouth' ~ we hear an echo of monks chanting or perhaps just the endlessly repeated prayers echoing back to us from the stone and then a slow ebbing abandonment into pulsating absence.
And I hand over the headphones emotionally charged and emotionally changed.

extracted from Mark’s book of ‘A Quiet Reverie’
A quiet reverie investigates the ruined abbeys of North East England, and creates a sonic experience from the architecture, space, and surrounding natural environment.

The work extends the practice of phonography into a dynamic and acoustically creative portrayal of time and journey through space and site. I will use the term ‘psycho phonography’ to label my practice and define it as a perceptual appreciation of field recording rather than an ecological or documental one.

By relocating, transferring and manipulation recordings from the ruined abbeys, the work connects each location in a metaphorical and sonic chain. It explores sounds inherent ability to spill between time and sense and into other perceived realms and modes of perception and listening.

A Quiet Reverie is a psycho phonographic sound piece, a mode of of aural imaginary awakening.

extracted from Mark’s research poster
Research Conclusions:
* A subjective absence in the sound is necessary to encourage a deeper sonorous listener
* Do ruins contain traces of sonic past? As poetic & compositional tool yes. In places of ruin or abandonment a perpetual & psychological space exists for the listener to complete, the journey to complete this absence is the soundscape narrative
Essential Listening:
B J Nilsen, The short night
Chris Watson, Stepping into the dark
Hilgegarde Westerkamp, Transformations
Richard Skelton, Landings Steven Peters, Hereings

+ External Symposium:
Time: 15:00-18:00 RSVP
Symposium in which Steven Connor *, Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck,
and sound artist David Toop**, Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts London and Senior Research Fellow at the Sound Arts & Design Department of the London College of Communication address issues of sonic practice raised by Audio Forensics.
* see Steven's lecture @
** replaced Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator at Tate Modern

Steven Connor: Ear Room
Seated. Listening. In session. Seance.
Hearing seems different to sight and touch and taste and smell
Hear from where the sounds are rather than where we are – sound occupies & evacuates
Sound Space. We can hear textures qualities inside things
Ventriloquism - how fragile & volatile our sense of sound space is - when it really counts we are very poor at hearing well
Unlike vision not immediately intelligible – hearing asks questions – which we then often seek to answer by the eye
Cartesian Grid - pinpoint - the ideal of point of view. There can only be a corresponding point of audition in most optimistic sense. Lines or fields of sight. Ears far less able to pinpoint - sound and we are multiple positioned through them
‘I am All Ears’ – we hear through distribution not convergence. You cannot sleep on both ears at once. There is no listening post: listening is listing & leaning
And sounds don't stay still – the eye commands space – the ear occupies – the ear makes room
Ear Room title of this lecture
We use Germanic words for animals & Latin words for cooked equivalents
Germanic for body parts - Latin for ‘cooked body’ like ‘mortality’
Germanic for raw corporeal ‘thing’ and ‘feeling’ – Latin for ‘object’ & ‘sensation’
In the dual coding: Latin ‘space’ is for sound; Latin ‘room’ is for sight: What becomes of ‘auditory space’ when one translates it into ‘ear-room’?
Space ready for occupation, able to be modified, presents a vacancy, defined from the outside in. Room inhabited, defined from the inside out, can be easily co-joined 'leg-room'
No relation direct between sound & hearing: the ear comes & goes with what it's hearing. Sight however automatically makes what sees an ‘object’
John Hull writing about going blind in ‘Touching the Rock’ “When you are blind, a hand suddenly grabs you. A voice suddenly addresses you. There is no anticipation or preparation. There is no hiding round the corner. There is no lying low. I am grasped. I am greeted. I am passive in the presence of that which accosts me. I cannot escape it … For the blind person, people are in motion, they are temporal, they come and they go. They come out of nothing, they disappear”
For the eye there is always a scene, whether seen or unseen. For the ear there is either something audible or there is nothing – there is no place in which to repose.
We can hear textures tonalities tensions time - sound energies intensities
Tonic - muscle & musicality
Space is free; a room costs.
In gallery ear-space must accommodate within eye-space. Ear-Room is only what & when it is made, which is why it can so easily escape the gallery. Ear-Room insists on a blind here & now

David Toop
Sound is always in a state of becoming & disappearing - so perhaps my unpreparedness for this is good
Readings from my notebook beginning 6th august
Trip to Marfa Sessions, Texas made famous by Donald Judd
Space used to inter German soldiers in WWII - Chinati Foundation - space for work to be made in
Christina Kublish (?)- nothing to see - abandoned building to listen to sound in - 'memory room' closed factories abandoned farms - old barn with abandoned tools
Memory room with no clues - just sounds of digital production - up to listener to make own meaning

Silent but Poem by Sugasi (?) b. 1889 anti war imprisoned for being

Cormach McCarthy: The Road
“The blackness I awoke with on those nights ...

Dickens – “many people unhappy to spend night in church - because of the roaming wind …”

A musical instrument is a small room - sound can linger - dispersing into air

the Confessional - grille like amplifier to image-less ear – talking into ear of god

Kafka: “Everyone carries a room inside them ... rattling of mirrors”

In America the sound of the trains is so romantic, mythic but it wakes me in the night – both absorbing & irritant

a rich woman shows me her hearing implant – “it’s no good for listening to classical music but fine for experimental …”

Donald Judd - huge library with few music books except eg Glass. And bagpipes he learned to play. (And music collection)

S - two poles sound is moving between - sound art is changing - we can capture & see sounds more easily now
D - previously sound recorded though text, oral tradition, painting, sculpture … very few writers on paintings refer to sound because outside their discipline? because the sound is no longer there? A difficulty of sound art having to squat in others’ rooms, houses. Best sound art when it completely accepts the contexts they move in with. How do you reveal the work to audience?

A(udience) - Idea frm Greek 'to see' - system of thought grown in sight not sound
S - But oral cultures are violent formulaic conservative very resistant to variation from norms - obedience comes from need to hear - change requires ability to put things down. Have just read a new dissertation on use of sound in torture
D – Should be wary of idealising silence – silence can easily make people uncomfortable - many examples of silence that is oppressive - censoring - power

A - In our culture do we (over)separate sound, sight & tactile sensing? - sound calls for use of memory
D - work with auditory artist - you work to her requirements.
A – reading Mark Cuzens - thought was born by Greeks when we could write and free brains for new thinking
S - animals are all memory - I look forward to not needing any memory.
A - Writing music has led to incredible architecture of sound - exact notation leads to conservativism vs. lack of notation leads to conservativism. Fixedness allows you to go somewhere else
S - writing preserves fantasy of permanence
A - Stanley Fish - always subjective - the work is made at moment of reading
(Me thought - sound must always be moving whereas sights can be more seemingly still - or we move - or what we're looking at moves)
D - does recording fix something that's not meant to be fixed? What sound does best is texture time rather than pure time - how would we know this without sound? In a film, sound is the plasma that holds things together. Beckett thought the silent film had demised too soon. We exist in space time
D – this idea is too much for me to grasp in one thought – need to separate each idea to get sense of space time.

see a blog review of this exhibition at

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