Sound Makes Waves
Artists from varied genres venture into the audio realm
Media / 10 May 2011
Not since John Cage didn’t play his piano has sound been so highly regarded as an art form all its own (or so worthy of scientific attention). As the creation and manipulation of sound gradually gains footing as an accepted craft, artists, musicians and writers alike are exploring new ways to connect with audiences at ear level.
NPR at MOCA
: Artist-run radio collective Neighborhood Public Radio recently teamed up with the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA for a three-part series of “interactive sound projects.” Part One saw NPR hijacking the airwaves around the museum to create radio sound out of visitor interviews, performances, and even real-time conversations. In Part Two, sounds emerging from museumgoers’ cars were layered and looped to compose a symphony. The final installment will feature guitar-made drone sounds, meant to create a shifting “fuzz-tone” that will vary depending on a visitor’s location. The series has struck a chord with audiences despite its experimental nature, using crowdsourcing as a point of entry to the unconventional concept of hearing art.
The Drum
: Touting its tagline “Literature Out Loud,” this nonprofit lit-mag publishes short stories, essays and novel excerpts exclusively in audio form. In lieu of more drastic applications of tech to narrative, The Drum features traditional storytelling, albeit via online streaming and mp3 downloads. In providing well-voiced, well-paced stories, it actually gives a nod to the slow reading movement. A subscription (plus archive access) costs $25 a year, but newly published pieces are available for free. As a helpful touch, stories are tagged by length, so multitaskers can choose according to their schedule: a “small” story is about the length of a dog-walk, while a “large” story better suits a morning commute.
Cinema for the Ear
: As part of this year’s weeklong Unsound Festival lineup, the Film Society of Lincoln Center co-hosted a sound study of horror, an in-the-dark exploration of “the pleasure and fear of unease.” Works by ambient- and noise-musicians Felix Kubin, Clay Gold and Rob Eggers, among others, were played to a darkened theater in 5.1 surround sound—without visual accompaniment. A companion podcast features witch house-dabbling duo Demdike Stare. Dedicated audiophiles who missed out on the one-time event may find solace in San Francisco’s Audium—the theater boasts a 176-speaker set-up, and twice-weekly puts on comparable performances of “sound sculpture.”
©The Intelligence Group