December 18, 2007

My belated thoughts on SAD

How did your experience the ambient sound within the exhibition space?
There was not anything in the exhibition that really resonated outside its designated area. The only sound pieces were enclosed and it was up to the visitor to interact. The only ambience was coming from outside with the heavy storm, giving the entire presentation, and an already depressing concept, more emotion.

What was the role of sound in the artworks presented in the exhibition.
I feel the role of the sound art pieces was subdued. I feel there were more impactful pieces in the exhibition, and that Labor Camp Study Room B was more about politics than the disorder, making it out of place.

Describe a sonic experience that most fully tuned you into the exhibition theme SAD.
Aforementioned, the work in the exhibition that took forms outside of the realm of sound were more intriguing and representational of the feelings associated with SAD.

I feel Charles M. Lume’s piece “The Still Time? illustrated the idea of SAD in the most effective manner. The purpose of the piece was to visually show how there are only two seasons in Minnesota—summer and winter. Summer was sandwiched between two winters, one light and one heavy.

Summer was represented with an arc of little cocktail umbrellas advancing toward the ceiling—symbolizing unreachability. The elevation of the objects also made me think of how summer is like a dream—it is such a cherished, divine period of time, that unfortunately zooms by in a flash.

The light winter was depicted through the placement several spread out little mirrors on the ground. From a personal standpoint, I feel Lume used mirrors as the object representing snow to show how a person with SAD literally becomes a part of the season and the emotions associated with it.

The heavy winter was not visible right away in the gallery – which directly symbolizes heavy winter storms and the heavy winter months. The snow keeps falling and falling, while the temperature keeps on dropping and dropping. It is such a dramatic shift in our lives—we have to snow shovel, our cars have to warm up, we have to find our winter clothes, etc. It is a whole other dimension. In the case of this installation, it was a whole other wall in itself, where the viewer had to walk around to another section of the gallery. Here, hordes of little round glass pieces were scattered on the floor, complemented by icicle-like objects poking out of the wall.

September 27, 2007


Experiencing sound is such a different experience than most other things because there is sound everywhere and often we form habits of blocking certain sounds out. This makes focusing on certain aspects of sound that much more difficult. Without highlighting certain aspects of what someone hears, or if something is not loud and direct, we tend to focus less on what we hear and absorb. The exhibition space was so large and yet it still seemed as if the sounds presented were isolated in there respective areas. It was almost as if each area had its own unique sound and experience that related to and contributed to the aesthetic of what you where experiencing.

Sound played an important role in further connecting the viewer to the piece and expressing a deeper emotion within the work. You were never just hearing sound, but often you were looking at something and or manipulating something while hear the sounds related to that piece. Sound contributed greatly to the works by creating a more complete experience.

The weather and the sounds outside really seemed to affect and almost complimented the experience inside. Although the openness in the exhibition and the sparseness of the works as wells the use of lighting all seemed to affect an individuals experiences in regards to space, and sound.

September 26, 2007

Sound Reflection

How did you experience the ambient sound within the exhibition space?
I experienced the sound in a rather drifting manner. I feel like I tend to take things in bit by bit rather than focusing intently on one particular item. I listened to the Labor Camp Orchestra "switch board," watched portions of the video installation, leaned in closer to the giant pincushion, and stood beneath the aural umbrella of "good morning and good night." There was also the ambient sound of the storm which tied in quite nicely with SAD, I thought. I think the storm helped illuminate that feeling of being trapped that SAD can bring about in a person.

What was the role of sound in the artworks presented in the exhibition.
I think the role varied. For "Good Night/Good Morning" the sound was less direct - sprinkling over the listener like a light rain - which made it, for me, harder to hear all the differences in her voice. I think this added to the feeling of melancholy and malaise and evoked, quite literally, the distance one has when suffering from SAD. The sound board of the L.C. Orchestra was completely different with it's large headphones and interactivity. In the orchestra piece, the participant has all the power & control of the piece and so to experience it is to interact with the installation.

Describe a sonic experience that most fully tuned you into the exhibition theme SAD.
I keep coming back to "Good Morning/Good Night" because I think that piece in particular evoked SAD. The distance of the sound, of the voice, the monotony of the words, the stale-ness . . . when I think of SAD I think of how un-alive one feels. You merely exist from day-to-day with an undercurrent of feeling stuck, trapped, depressed, etc.

Continue reading "Sound Reflection" »


The weather changed my perceptions of sound within the exhibition area since the last time I visited. Rain, wind, thunder, and hail pounding blowing and clattering down on the walls of the museum. When ever thunder erupts, I think of gods (of the Norse style) fighting on a battlefield above the clouds.

In Piotr's installation, the process of donning those big, enveloping headphones takes you away from the gallery and into his own world of re-education through sight and sound. His songs were mechanical and organic at the same time, and had a touch of improvisation to them, with the way they would start with a little, discardable melody that would somehow build into something greater. What delighted me the most was his use of voice in his songs - the lyricalness of Chinese poetry, or the foreign tones of Russian, or the cheerleader chants in his song Camp Cola.

Another piece I enjoyed was Endless Day, whose author I can't remember. It was a video projection on the wall of time-lapse footage of an entire day on the northern seas of Norway, on a day that never ends when the sun never sets. Although the video contained no sound itself, there was something serene about the envisioned sound of the bright glowing of the sun and the ambient sounds of the museum.

In listening to sound, there can be something deeply solitary and meditative about the experience. In the wintertime, things slow down...

September 25, 2007

Sound Reflection

The ambient sound didn't really play much of a part in my experience. There weren't too many people there. An occassional viewer walking by, but nothing that would have an impact.
The use of sound in the art pieces I found to be practical and inventive.
Andrea Stanistav's "Flash Land" had this sweet surround sound system in a small room accompanied by video, but the sound was way soft.
Piotr Szyhalski's Labor Camp Study Room A/B was completely interactive and probably the coolest. You switch the plugs on you head phones for a different recording.
My "sonic experience" would have to be when I selected the recording of the 911 calls in Labor Camp Study Room B. Hearing the different people desperate and screaming over the phone was depressing and a bit unsettling.

September 19, 2007

Sound Reflections

Post a blog entry that responds to the following queries:

How did your experience the ambient sound within the exhibition space?
What was the role of sound in the artworks presented in the exhibition.
Describe a sonic experience that most fully tuned you into the exhibition theme SAD.