Monday, 14 March 2011

The Significance of Sound

I want us to think about sound. I went to a talk last week on the rhythm of sound by Frauke Behrendt. It got me thinking about the importance of sound as a form of movement and embodiment - how sound interacts with and moves our body, but in relation to the landscape or the different scapes/spaces around us. Frauke was discussing an example of mobile sound art in Boston, USA, which attempts to translate the topography of the landscape and its rhythms into sound to create a soundscape in conversation with the land and its history (including that of its inhabitants). Walkers navigate the spaces of the island through the movement of sound which is communicated to them via GPS. Sound may be the missing element in our artwork - sound links us to the embodied, the body, through movement, music, sonics. It can create a connection, or a disconnection. I'm really interested in how sound can enhance the visual experience - either synchronically or non-synchronically. Sound interesting?


  1. It does sound interesting. The example you give seems to be about how listening to sound in a particular location or landscape can change one's relationship with that place; there's a great tradition and contemporary practise of this kind of walking sound art, and I agree with you that it is relevant to our project (by the way, I don't think it's the missing element: the importance of sound is part of our manifesto, remember).

    There's also something that feels very significant about the formal relationships between sound and image in the medium of film, and I'm more interested in this than in site-specific sound art per se. There's something very rich about the potential dislocation between sound and image, which will enable a complication of the relationship between here/there; present/past/future; all those binaries and other relationships that we've talked about.

    In the British Art Show at the Hayward Gallery there has been a screening of some film work (I'll need to add the artist's name later) which is created first as a sound work, then as a visual response: this is the reverse of the usual relationship between sound and image in film, in which the visual is given primacy.

    Thinking afresh about this relationship and about the connection between sound and climate and climate change will be as important as you think.

  2. Luke Fowler is the artist I mentioned above. There's a screening of some of his sound-led works this Thursday, 17th March, at the Hayward.

  3. Thanks David. I'm listening to music as I write this. Music, or sound, makes me feel something; I am moved. For me, it is a bodily/emotional experience. As you remind me, we have committed to using sound in our artwork. So, what kinds of sound and for what purposes? I like the idea of non-synchronicity - that the sounds we use may be at odds with the visuals, making us perceive the images in a different way. I also like the idea of using sounds that are more aligned with and enhance the visuals - a bit like Tracey Moffat's 'Doomed' which we saw at the Royal Academy Earth exhibition (Dec 2009), where images of disaster movies are enhanced by the high energy soundtrack that produced a visual, sonic and embodied experience. I also like the idea of visuals without sound, and sound without visuals. We also want to use humour. I hear the sound of a cow mooing........