The 2008 works by British artist Tim Knowles and Swiss duo Pe Lang + Zimoun that are teamed up in Unpredictable Forms of Sound and Motion, curated by Steve Sacks at bitforms gallery, leave a bit less to chance than the title implies. The technology-driven pieces in the show take ideas originating in 60s and 70s land art, musical minimalism, and performance art, and situates them within constraints reminiscent of a scientific experiment. The result is that the works emerge as concrete entities, rather than as transient, site-specific or dematerialized experiences.
Mostly recorded from the source of the image, the sound in this piece is often the sound of air as it is violently disturbed either by nature or by jet and airplanes slicing through the firmament, which share a similar sound frequency as the waves. There is uncertainty when sound is “real” sound or if it is added and mixed: as in the fading in and fading out of each sound, the blending of sounds, the sudden volume cuts, the loops, and the silence. There is not much manipulation in the image of ((wave other than setting the camera upside down and the occasional delay and the desaturation of color. By the simple act of turning the camera, there is a further sense of disorientation and dislocation with the image, similar to the effects of the manipulation of sound.
Reproduction, appropriation, and automation are three major ongoing concerns within contemporary music and art. It’s strange then that relatively few people know about two mid-20th Century musical instruments that embodied all of these methods: the Chamberlin keyboard and its offshoot, the Mellotron, the first instruments built on taped samples of the sounds of others.
In Mellodrama: The Mellotron Documentary, filmmaker Dianna Dilworth takes measure of the many players in the story behind these unruly sound machines, whose very existence ultimately shaped much of popular music. The film is a study in the unpredictability of innovation, and how each extension of the same technology can conflict with the intentions of those that came before it.
The film profiles the creators as well as the instruments themselves, spotlighting their influence on later musical tools and approaches, as well as their overwhelming influence on a wave of pop stars, from the Beatles to 70s progressive rock bands. Mellodrama premiers February 16 at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.
Here is a website broadcasting sounds with the intention of influencing the contents of your dreams. The project is based on sleep- and dream-research, indicating that external stimuli like sound, smell and touch can be experienced also during sleep. Our dreams are shaped by an inner world, as well as by experiences that we have had during the day and the external stimuli we are exposed to during sleep. While dreaming we get in contact with sub- and pre-conscious layers of our soul. Using sound you can influence your dreams.
In the New York art world, there's a funny distinction between "uptown" and "downtown." If "uptown" is Broadway, "downtown" is Off-Off-Broadway. The 92nd Street Y has famously presented an uptown lecture series for years, bringing in artists, musicians, authors, and others worth taking note of. But their downtown Tribeca branch is the place to go see cool bands or comedians rapidly sprouting up from the underground. It's within this context that the fine geeks at Dorkbot have curated an evening next Wednesday entitled "You're Doing it Wrong: Creative Misuse of Technology." Following from the group's mission to present "people doing strange things with electricity," the night will begin with live performances by The Draftmasters + Daniel Iglesia, who will invite you to don 3D glasses in viewing and listening to their pen plotter-generated sound and video projection, and Jeremy Bailey, who will run a deadpan demo of SOS, "his latest ill-conceived homebrew productivity software." These live activities will be followed by five short screenings, including Tom Sachs's Space Program, billed as "an incredibly detailed mis-re-imagining of a NASA space mission;" Paul Slocum's You're Not My Father, a compilation of internet users' reenactment of a clip from the 80s sitcom Full House; and Daniel Greenfeld's Mini-disasters, small-scale reenactments of famous transportation-related disasters. The lineup offers something for geeks of every stripe and a collective glimpse at the aesthetics of failure. - Marisa Olson
The question of the relationship between performance and its documentation is an interesting, if longstanding one. These relations have continued to shift with the emergence of newer and newer media, so that the telephonic or radio broadcast, camera, and internet transmission become implicated in the content they capture and deliver, often begging a chicken vs. egg-style question of whether the performance or the recording is paramount. The "Stage II" exhibition at New York's The Project gallery returns attention to the site of performance, even as it displays the residual ephemera of artists' actions. The work of artist Dave Allen stimulates a visceral connection with audiences in tapping into sound art's classic obsession with silence to deliver Silence Recordings, Hansa Studios, Berlin (2001), which fills the gallery space with the seemingly-silent recordings of vacant artist studios and empty concert halls. Lucky Dragons is a band and art collective whose work encompasses music, drawing, public collaboration, and more. For "Stage II," they present Showing (2009), a sculptural installation that proves the artists need not be physically present to make noise. An arrangement of their homebrew instruments featuring rocks, wood, and analog electronics sits in waiting for viewers to move them, generating a shift in their electrical field and a resultant shift in the shape of the sounds they are set to make. While these two projects provide perfect bookends for the exhibition, the show also includes work by Larry Krone, Rashaad Newsome, and Superamas, each of whom is engaged in the practice of splicing together object relationships, filmic clips, or cultural reenactments to establish a new interdependence between artist, viewer, stage, and document. - Marisa Olson