SOUNDWORKS embraces sound art in its purest, naked form, void of any selected visual input, and being forced fed some obscure conceptual ideas. It is pretty unique what the ICA has created: an easily accessible and a diverse library of sound art, which can be enjoyed within one’s personal space at any time.
SOUNDWORKS is a celebration of the medium, and embraces listener interaction. I am using this blog to undertake a small experiment - can the notion of ‘See What You Want To See‘, a saying so prevalent within visual art, be adapted to sound art?
As a listener my own personal preference for enjoyment is when artists explore the ephemeral. Moving away from its descriptive nature, sound is very similar to photography, it has a reality which is hard to avoid.
Hear What You Want To Hear - the abstract:
Working with video, I am currently consumed with explorations into the textural, expressionist, abstract quality of the medium, while observing Monet and Turner, masters of colour and light. The whole cross section of sound art represented within SOUNDWORKS has got me thinking about looking into the abstract expressionist qualities of the sonic medium.
Without looking at the artists’ explanation I invite people to listen to parts of pieces which, to me, explore the abstract. Please listen to the suggested time-frames I've added below the player or listen to the whole piece. I invite open discussions of visual thoughts on hearing the selected sound pieces from all generations:
What are you hearing? What about feeling?
Between 11th - 12th minute.
Between 1st - 2nd minute
Hear What You Want To Hear - personal selection
Our online lives are being dominated by Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, eBay and Amazon; all these have their individual ways of feeding on everyone’s individual uniqueness, like buttons, recommendations, playlists. There are comparisons to be made between the exhibition and this modern reflection of personal taste. Like Spotify, this exhibition is not dictating what you should be listening to, it is purely open for you to discover, to create your own exhibition. The gallery presentation of SOUNDWORKS also illustrates this, but it also adds an extra interesting dynamic to this personal selection. If not alone in the gallery, it can become social and interactive with fellow listeners, further echoing of modern social networking.
Between 2nd - 3rd minute
Hear What You Want To Hear - the commission
My own interpretation of Bruce Nauman's Days is that it is not steeped within complex conceptual ideas. Days acknowledges the purest sonic dimensions of the human voice, without visual intrusion you are able to form your own ideas about the individuals speaking. The minimalist, familiar nature of Nauman's subject matter helps with hearing the tonal qualities of the individual voices. This returns to the personal again, our voices define us to other people, I often listen to Talk Radio (BBC Radio 5live) where some of the personalities are rarely seen, only heard, but through their voices I form an image of what they look like (often it is way off the mark). This further illustrates the visual power of sound.
My own approach to the commission was to use the ordered nature of time to go out and do field studies along a local country river, harking back to more romantic, traditional roots within my work, viewing the river as a meandering flowing symbol of time itself. A river has the ability to bend and change direction, this, the condensing alteration of time is featured within my own piece.
between 7th - 8th minute
between 3rd - 4th minute
I would like to thank the ICA for creating and supporting, plus a big thank-you to two recent departures from firstsite Kath Wood, former Director and Laura Earley, former Assistant Curator/Events Manager, for their dedication in supporting Essex contemporary artists over the past 15 years.
Tim Skinner is the first blogger in this series of Touring Talks - a selection of works chosen from SOUNDWORKS by artists, curators and other cultural practitioners. Each tour offers a unique perspective on the exhibition, both in the gallery space and online.