The reason why I was absent from class last week was because my project was about the absence of sound. The absence of embodied sound.
The assigned project, Embodied Sound, “explores Sound Art that emphasizes and explores the physicality of sound.” Part of the assigned project was about physical activation of sound. My project explores this concept of sound activation through physical relationships between people.
In Wafaa Bilal’s lecture at the Spark Festival, he tried to clarify the difference between interactive and dynamic art. He believes that many people falsely consider “interactive art” dynamic. He said that in interactive art, forces are acting or capable of acting on each other in a sort of cause and effect relationship (you touch something and it produces a corresponding sound for example). In this relationship, there are authoritarian power structures and all possible end states are known.
In dynamic art, however, there is autonomy within the artist’s system, and all end states are unknown. The participant(s) can write part of the narrative (this requires investment from the participant). This leads to the democratization of the making and viewing of art. (The project in the skyway during the Spark festival might be an example of a dynamic artwork)
This dynamic relationship is what I am currently interested in exploring through sound, and this project is sort of the first step in my investigation.
The reason why I’m attracted to human-human relationships is because of this dynamic quality. While there are certainly authoritarian power structures in some relationships, these power structures are always in flux and are often relationships are mostly democratic (when one talks with a close friend for example).
These relationships are important for me in relation to a sound art course because these power structures and more open-ended relationships affect the sound that is produced by each individual (and collective) participant (an example of the collective participants may be two fan sections during a college football game, in which the noise level and specific chants interact or compete with each other).
(An example of thought and sound activation between people may also be explained by the phenomena in which someone may never have thought about or said something if he/she were not physically engaged with a specific other (speaking about or doing a specific thing). Why is it important to meet with someone in person? Why is physical contact so important in discussion and noise production (in a music band for example)? These are questions I think are important as we progress towards an age of cyber connection, with long distance meetings and mediated forms of interaction. Certain environmental, social, and physical processes/interactions may stimulate specific noises and ideas in individuals and groups.)
It is also important (for me) to research these interactions because it may inform the design of my own sound art projects. I wonder if there is a parallel between how one views art and how one interacts with people. I think it may be a great advantage for art to try to replicate this human-human interaction, to democratize the interaction in such a way. This may allow for more people to understand and associate with contemporary art, and may improve art’s standing/role in society.
Specific questions of mine include:
Can the way one interacts with a stranger be an important case study for designing a dynamic artwork? Or can the way one interacts with a friend be a better model? The word design is important to me, because I think artists have the ability (and responsibility) to design these experiences, these encounters, and should know what specific design elements contribute to a specific effect.
Thus, my “Embodied Sound” project is sort of my first step in this investigation. For this initial experiment, I thought it would be important to withdraw myself from an environment, and record what the effect was, both on the group and on the individual. I hope that the results will inform the design of future investigations.
So, since I was not present in the room last week, may I ask you to share your experiences from class last week, in relation to my investigation. Also, may I ask you to share your response to the investigation as a whole?
Below is a brief reflection of my own experience as the withdrawn participant:
Isolating myself from the class was a very strange experience. I would imagine what the conversations may have been like, who may have said what, who would remain quiet, who would chew food, who would tap their foot, and whose chair would creak and squeak. Since I was supposed to be in a classroom focused on sound, I felt like I was more aware of sound even outside the class. Truly, I felt very isolated and very disconnected to the members of the class. I felt like I missed an important set of things, I missed their comments, their sounds, their energy. I wonder what ideas could have been spawned through the class. I wonder if the class noticed my absence, and what they thought about it. It was a very interesting experience for me.
I am also interested in this investigation because the experience of the two audiences, myself and the class, are completely different. Creating this cleavage in experience is interesting and something I think about generally. What are the advantages and disadvantages to each experience; what does one miss in choosing one or the other? (This question was especially on my mind when experiencing Ray Lee’s piece, as I could choose where to sit/stand, I was always feeling like I didn’t want to miss a noise) Is it desirable to experience the whole of a performance or artwork, or is it desirable to have a more individual experience and maintain a sense of ignorance towards the wholeness of the piece?