artists: RSS B0YS, Miguel A. Garcia, Gerard Lebik, Aleksandra Grunholz, Kama Sokolnicka; Soundscape Research Studio at the Institute of Cultural Studies of the University of Wrocław;
participants of SURVIVAL 11 field recording workshops: Dawid Furmaniewicz, Krzysztof Marciniak, Kamila Staśko-Mazur, Ewelina Turkot
curator: DANIEL BROŻEK
MUSIC OF THE CITY
When preparing the programme of the Sound Art Forum accompanying the 12th edition of the SURVIVAL Art Review, we followed its motto: ‘City – Inflammatory State’ and tried to present phenomena that focus the attention and energy of people who consciously co-create the contemporary city soundscape. Following in the footsteps of ethnomusicology pioneers, who recorded folk music in its natural context, we also decided to listen closely to those phenomena that influence the choices of contemporary sound artists.
The Festival Club programme was an attempt to gather the most interesting dance music phenomena of the last year in one place. Dunno Recordings is a new label and DJ collective that focuses on the synthesis of seemingly distant dance music styles, whose common denominator is sound gestures derived from the avant-garde music practices. A similar strategy of intensification of impressions was adopted by the producers making up the Polish Juke initiative; in their case, however, the potpourri is manifested in the dense tempo of changes in the rhythm and cutup vocals. They use juke and footwork music styles to search for new impressions and formal ideas in dance music. Turnus w Tropikach, seemingly the most stylistically traditional band that focuses its practice on searching for ethno treads in contemporary music, turned out to be equally as surprising and dynamic. All the three showcases demonstrated in different ways how the multiculturalism and ethnicity of the contemporary city, which often resembles an inflammatory state in the eyes of the representatives of traditional values, have the potential of becoming an inspiring impulse in the practice of young music producers and DJs.
Similarly rich and complex ways of experiencing the contemporary city soundscape were revealed in the works collected in the City Soundscape Library (whose detailed analysis was performed by Kamila Staśko-Mazur in her text).
SOUND AND SPACE
During the 11th edition of SURVIVAL, we used the Sound Art Forum actions, which either generated the sounds or recorded them, to listen to the existing space. This year, basing on the available spaces inside the Faculty of Pharmacy building, we marked off spaces for sound art on our own, which involved active interference instead of passive observation.
RSS BOYS’ installation titled S000ND WYTH W000ND was the first attempt to transfer club music into a gallery space in Poland. The piece was based on typical concert equipment (sound system, smoke generator, projector, amplifier), which created a space for total experience. Instead of traditional visualizations screened by a projector, there was thick smoke, high temperature and mighty bass rhythm stirring the air, which resulted in an unusual atmosphere of a sandstorm, a total immersion in music. Although seemingly a dream come true for those keen on hours-long dance trance, the space paralysed with its intensity verging on physical possibilities of the human body.
Gerard Lebik and Miguel A. Garcia used the existing space as an element of sound composition to the full. The metal and glass structure turned out to be a perfect resonator for the low frequencies, and the vibrating windows – an interesting acoustic instrument. Referring to Harry Bertoia’s sound art sculptures, the artists boosted the experience of space by means of low bass drones that encouraged prolonged listening and paying attention to the high contrasting sounds of the vibrating construction as well as different tones in different points of the space. The artists made interesting use of natural resonance and echoes, which became an integral part of their composition, although in a majority of acoustic pieces they are an undesirable element that is usually kept to a minimum.
The idea of active listening to space was also present in the collection of the City Soundscape Library. Kama Sokolnicka juxtaposed recordings made in the old and new seats of the Faculty of Pharmacy, gathered the acoustic reflexes of activity in both spaces and played them from two independent channels. Ewelina Turkot’s composition emphasised the complex textures of the urban noise that vanishes in the awareness of city dwellers, turning into an inaudible background. Last but not least, Krzysztof Marciniak in his sound walks in the Argentinean countryside documented the richness and variety of natural sounds. Based on recordings of echoes and reflected sounds, all these works highlighted the importance of the space in which we happen to be for our perception of sound.
LISTENER TURNED CREATOR
During the 11th edition of SURVIVAL, we attempted to encourage the recipients to take active part in the Sound Art Forum events. This year, we were interested both in the perspective assumed by practitioners (composers, DJs, producers) and performers, and recipients, who actively participated in the process of making sound actions through interactive composing actions, critical discussions and active listening processes.
The concept of the installation by Gerard Lebik and Miguel A. Garcia was based on a simple idea of sound composition for a multi-layer bass drone that made the metal and glass construction of the former aseptic lab tremble. An action directly referring to an inflammatory state, an attempt to translate the process of virus’s spread in the body into sound, it simultaneously turned out to be an invitation to enter the depths of the composition and sound itself. Venturing across the lab, the listener heard sound waves overlapping differently in different points. When pressing his ear against the vibrating walls, when lowering or raising his head, the listener made his own version of the artists’ original composition. The initially awe-inspiring and overwhelming atmosphere of the mighty bass and the noise of the vibrating windows gradually subsided and was replaced by curiosity of a new experience – similar to a fascination with the images of pathogenic viruses seen through an electron microscope.
The interactive aspect of RSS BOYS’ work was based on an attempt to disrupt the perception of time and space of a music piece. On the one hand, their music had no beginning or ending, woven around a single drum and melody motif. The slow changes of tempo and the frequency and tone of sounds played a ‘psychedelic’ function that could result in a disrupted perception of the passage of time. The thick smoke and spotlights, which were intended to give out an impression of a sandstorm, also created a limitless space of music experience in which the listeners quickly got lost because the feeling of space was disrupted, too. Invited to take part in the desert adventure, the listener could individually decide about its length and intensity.
Some of the works gathered in the City Soundscape Library were made by the participants of the field recording workshops accompanying the 11th edition of SURVIVAL. These workshops were intended to encourage people interested in working with sound to have a go at composing. Most of the participants reacted enthusiastically to the possibility of presenting their output as part of the library. The stylistic variety was highly surprising – from purely documentary recordings of interesting sonic phenomena, to narrative compositions based on the natural spectrum of sounds in the environment, to multi-layer constructions using sounds in the environment. Each of the participants succeeded in developing their own original way of listening to space and talking about it.
City Soundscape Library: http://soundartforum.bandcamp.com/
Miguel A. Garcia + Gerard Lebik aseptic sinus infection: http://youtu.be/HcllcMle3Vo
RSS B0YS S000ND WYTH W000ND: http://youtu.be/QZYMvpe6LBQ
Festival Club – Polish Juke:
Festival Club – Dunno Showcase:
Festival Club – Turnus w Tropikach: