Alvin Lucier

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Listen to Alvin Lucier's piece, "I am sitting in a room" by clicking on the link.

Think of some of the questions we answered in class on Monday about sound works being different from visual pieces or music. Write a response based on what we talked about.

Does this piece tell a story?

What story does it tell, if any?

How is it different from visual work?

How does it make you feel?

6 Comments

To me, this piece tells a story of losing your voice in a crowd. The original vocal recording is pure and true. A message is sent without complication. Slowly this message becomes distorted and lost in dissonance, as if a hundred of people were speaking this message at once. It has lost its meaning in a morass of white-noise. It differs from visual work in that the concept or story is created through the layering of sounds rather than images. It creates a gut physical reaction, but does not provide an easy visual indication of why you feel that way. A picture of a person in the middle of a crowd is easier to understand as loss of identity then a voice awash in resonance. The piece made me feel sad, like I was lost and alone. Like there was something I was supposed to say, but now no longer remember or care what it is.
~Joy Erickson

I do not find a story in this sound piece. It makes me wonder how he does make this piece. I have lost count of how many times he has repeated this same poetry. Each time it changes. I envision Alvin sitting in a white room of concrete block. A simple metal folding chair is all that is in this room. Maybe a 4-foot florescent light fixture on the ceiling. The sound of his voice changes from a normal sound to a mechanical sound. One third of the way into the 45-minute piece. One cannot understand the words any longer. And half way through it sounds as if the Blue Man Group has taken over the piece. From the start I was ok with the poetry piece. But once I could not make out words, I lost interest. It wasn’t until two-thirds the way through that I could bare the tones. The tones turned into a new age thing.

I enjoyed this piece. I found it innovative and it was interesting to watch how the sound track changed over time. Listening to the sound track from beginning to end is way too long, though, and at the start listening to him talk over and over again before any real distortion started felt repetitive and annoying. As soon as his voice started to lose its meaning and becoming just noise though i thought the resulting noise became very soft and beautiful. I do not think this tells a story and I don't think it was ever his intention to tell a story. It seemed more like an experiment to me than anything else. This was different from visual work because this piece was completely based on how sound waves work and bounce. In a way this piece was distorted and changed in a way that wouldn't be possible to represent through visual work. The piece made me feel relaxed once the voice track had blended into a light, high-pitched sound, but leading up to that point it was very boring and almost put me to sleep.

I was creeped out at first. Only because his voice is dark and resonating. Then I started to feel uneasy and very annoyed by the repetition. I was less focused on his words by about the third time he repeated himself. Then it started to all make more sense what he was actually talking about. It began to feel more like random rhythms of different pitches, but I could still tell it was a human speaking. The syllables were less renowned and the tone was the only focus. It started to all sound like one type of tone after a while, and less human-like. Kind of like how a microphone sounds when you hit it and that high-pitch sound blares. It’s different than visual work because you’re forced to listen to the entire piece instead of only getting glimpses and walking away. In comparison, that would be like covering up parts of a painting. In this scenario, it would be only listening to specific parts of the track instead of all the way through, making you very confused as to what the whole or any of the story is.

I was creeped out at first. Only because his voice is dark and resonating. Then I started to feel uneasy and very annoyed by the repetition. I was less focused on his words by about the third time he repeated himself. Then it started to all make more sense what he was actually talking about. It began to feel more like random rhythms of different pitches, but I could still tell it was a human speaking. The syllables were less renowned and the tone was the only focus. It started to all sound like one type of tone after a while, and less human-like. Kind of like how a microphone sounds when you hit it and that high-pitch sound blares. It’s different than visual work because you’re forced to listen to the entire piece instead of only getting glimpses and walking away. In comparison, that would be like covering up parts of a painting. In this scenario, it would be only listening to specific parts of the track instead of all the way through, making you very confused as to what the whole or any of the story is.

I thought that the “Sitting in a Room” piece was a bit dull. The first time I heard the loop, I was unaware of the fact that it’s a loop. You almost expect something different. But it seemed to be a very hypnotic sound piece. Not only was the man’s voice very calm and relaxing, but as the loop became more and more distorted, it really seemed to be a symbol for getting sleepier and sleepier. It made me think that I was listening to a hypnotist, and getting increasingly tired and drowsy, even though this was not the case. It seemed like something that I would listen to if I were attempting to go to sleep. Overall I cannot say that I understand the meaning of the sound piece. It was calming, monotonous, and relaxing, but I found it far from interesting. Maybe I just don’t have a great understanding of sound art yet.

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This page contains a single entry by hael0002 published on October 6, 2010 2:39 PM.

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