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Some thoughts from the seminar

2004-05-01

My presentation very much resembled the presentation I gave of the revised project description during the “stipendiatsamling” in the end of March. I have now been giving the same presentation with some minor adjustments 5 times. That’s enough for a long while.

I also talked about the dilemmas I experienced during the development of the sound for “Dialog/Overgang”. David Toop found that an interesting observation. According to him there’s a huge difference between electro-acoustic music from the 60s and the 80s. Electronic music of the 60 is a lot more gestural and expressive while electro-acoustic music from to 80s seems to be a lot more static. Composers from one of the two stylistic eras tends not to like the music of the other era. he thought that a reason for this difference is that composers for a while composed in a traditional ways within a new medium creating music based on the idea of performed music.

What has pussled me is that Maia Urstad was able to create strong and convincing gestures for the recent “Lydmur” installation. I believe the reason why this worked for her but not for me is that her sound is attached to a large body the wall built from record decks. When you hear strong gestures moving through the wall it is as if the wall has been possessed by a spirit. There’s a physical body that the gestures can be associated to. In comparisment I created sound using 12 loudspeakers distributed sparingly in a large 65 × 10 meters room. The sound is present in all of the room and the loudspeakers were not hidden. Still my sound appeared without a strongly attached physical body as a kind of aural fog. This appearance seemed to me to ephemeral to have the bodily presence and strength required to produce strong physical gestures and movements in a convincing way.

Most of the other presentations were good and interesting. David toop did a sort of performance reading from his upcoming book while playing music from an accompanying CD compilation. I got so involved with the music that I had problems focusing on the text but he had several interesting thoughts and observations and I’m definitively going to check out the book.

Anne Karin Rynanders presentation gave an interesting insight into project done prior to the “sound showers” at Gardemoen airport. her homage to Pollock is a personal favorite: A blank canvas hiding 48 loudspeakers creating sounds moving around in similar ways to the action painting of Pollack.

The only project presented that I have problems with is the current “Norske ledd” project by Jørgen Larsson. He’s using a digital stethoscope to record the sound of joints and tendons moving. The sounds are then further processed and presented as an installation and concert/CD. So far it’s fine and the compositions he’s been making sounded very good indeed. For some reason they reminded me of the slight melancholic feeling of some of Ovals music.

The part I’m doubting is that he has chosen to use the sound of Norwegian celebrities as the source material. From the very first time I heard about the project I’ve had the feeling that the main reason for this was to create hype and publicity. During the presentation he presented several arguments for the use of celebrities but none of them were able to convince me. One of the arguments was that it "gives the artist the status as “somebody who has met a celebrity”" (quote from the Power-Point presentation).

Of course he might get a bit more publicity due to this but artistically it IMO do the project no good. The sound of somebody’s body is something private and intimate. The only persons you are likely to get so close to are your mother very close relatives someone you are in a relationship with and your children. When Warhol was working on celebrities he was investigating the iconic and de-personalized impression they give in the public sphere. To him they had as much depth and significance as a can of tomato beans. There’s a gross contradiction in Jørgens project between the intimacy suggested by the sounds used and the superficial sphere of the celebrities. In my opinion Jørgen is betraying an idea that could have been good and thought-provoking by not trusting it and superimposing an assumed curiosity for celebrities that adds no artistic significance or meaning.

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