Audio-visual installation. Part of ‘Beyond Soundscape‘, Sonorities Festival, SARC- Queen’s University
Ends 28 April 2013
A darkened room functions as a giant camera (obscura) as the scene from the street outside is projected upside-down onto a screen. The sound consists of live microphone feed from the outside manipulated by a max patch and shaped into a pattern of alternating segments of untreated sound and ‘freezes’, where a split-second of sound is ‘horizontalized’ and stretched into a sustained chord.
The idea of the ‘frame’ as manifested concretely by the projector screen, and temporally by the patterns of alternating frozen and unfrozen sound, is central to the work. The presence of these frames asks us to consider at what point in the process of creative mediation/interference, the raw sonic and visual materials might be considered a work to be contemplated and experienced as art, rather than just a live streaming of reality. The sonic element in particular teeters on the edge between music and non-music. On one hand the sound is coaxed into a fixed rhythmical framework of accelerandos and deccelerandos, and its spectral content broken open and exposed in the frozen chord segments, while on the other, it is clearly at the mercy of the ‘accidental dramaturgy of what happens’ be it planes passing directly overhead, children shouting or very little at all (a general sort of background noise).
Listen to a sound clip
An element of nostalgia also pervades the work. The camera obscura cannot help but remind us of the early days of photography (and the point-zero of mechanical image-capturing) while the image itself has a painterly quality that might make us think back even further to the interiors and exteriors of 17th century European (and especially Dutch) artworks. The process of freezing the sound also relates to photography and the act of fashioning a split-second of time into an object with a duration that is independent of the transient flow of reality. Freezing the live sound material has two possible outcomes: it may sentimentalize what has just passed by sustaining it artificially and fashioning a kind of nostalgia from it, or conversely, create an ominous atmosphere that casts doubt over future events- something we might term ‘suspense’.
Text: Joanna Bailie
For more information on Joanna Bailie see.
Sonorities 2013 brings international perspectives on new music to Belfast, with concerts from Italy and Poland. There are new works from Brazil, Canada, Australia, the USA, Sweden, France, Greece, Austria and elsewhere. But Sonorities also reflects the state of music in contemporary Ireland, supporting the work of local composers and those who have studied locally. It features electronic music, improvised music, the Ulster Orchestra, the Royal String Quartet and much more. A series of installations and videos in local galleries, and soundwalks through the city, juxtaposes works from abroad with those which reflect directly on Belfast, sometimes in ways which encourage us to view the city we know in unfamiliar ways. Download an app to your i-Phone or Android and you’ll experience another Belfast. And Sonorities has a ‘fringe’ this year, with events curated by students and hosted in the Students Union, giving access to the best in techno and electronica. Best of all it’s free!
For more information about the Sonorities Festival/ Beyond Soundscape click here.