Sound Arts 1st Year Show


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MFA Columbia University

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The Sound Arts MFA at Columbia University School of the Arts is an Interdepartmental Degree Program Offered in Association with the Department of Music and the Computer Music Center. Sound Arts builds on more than fifty years of interdisciplinary and collaborative sound innovation at Columbia. The interdepartmental program was developed by Faculty from the Computer Music Center, along with colleagues from Composition, Visual Arts, and Engineering. Exhibition curated by Deborah Cullen, Director & Chief Curator of The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. SOUND ARTS MFA FIRST YEAR SHOW Exhibition: May 4 - 12, 2014 Opening Reception: Sun, May 4, 6 - 8 PM Closing Viewing, Panel, Reception: Mon, May 12, 12 - 2 PM Viewing by Appointment: Mon, May 5 - Sun, May 11 Prentis Hall, 3rd Floor (632 W 125th St) THOMAS CAMPBELL IS A PHD CANDIDATE IN ART HISTORY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. NICHOLAS CROGGON IS AN INDEPENDENT ARTS WRITER AND PHD CANDIDATE IN ART HISTORY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK. HE IS THE CO-FOUNDER AND CO-EDITOR OF THE AUSTRALIA-BASED CONTEMPORARY ART JOURNAL, DISCIPLINE. PHOTOS BY CARLA CISNO (FRONT/TOP) AND NOLAN LEM (BOTTOM).


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CARLA CISNO (MILAN) WHAT ALL IS (2014) Aluminum, water, sound, tactile transducers, signal generator, amplifier, table, light , large-sensor camera, live projection. HAMM: Look at the ear th. CLOV: I’ ve looked. HAMM: With the glass? CLOV: No need of the glass. HAMM: Look at it with the glass. S.Beckett, Endgame , 1957. Active in the fields of contemporary music, théâtre musical, performance and installation, her current work focuses primarily on responsive sound environments and mixed media projects at the intersection of ar t, design, architecture and technology. Besides the numerous collaborations with composers (V.Globokar, B.Mason, T.Hosokawa, P.Eötvös, A.Lucier, K.Stockhausen, H.Lachenmann, G.Aperghis, M.Gordon) and institutions (Experimental Studio, SWR, Freiburg i.Br.; ICST, Zürich; IRCAM, Paris; EPFL, Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne), she has produced multime dia performances (F A B R I C A, Research and Communication Center, Italy), concer t-installations (The Banff Centre, Canada) and choreographic-composition pieces (TanzFabrik Berlin). Recent shows include performances and installations at Triennale di Milano, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Ar t (MASS MoCA), Tokyo Experimental Festival, Biennale Bern, Salzburger Festspiele, Lucerne Festival, ART Basel, Klangspuren and Transar t Festival, among others. Born in Buenos Aires, Carla Cisno resides in New York City, where she is currently a MFA candidate at Columbia University. THE IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT! An essay by Thomas Campbell and Nicholas Croggon It is characteristic of contemporary art to claim for itself all forms of creative production. Within its institutions—from brick and mortar buildings to the printed page—not only do all forms of artistic practice, from painting to video to installation, mingle seamlessly, but all forms of discourse are welcome as well. The discussion around art has seen contributions from fields as diverse as political theory, philosophy, and anthropology. So what about sound? Over the past decades, arts institutions have begun to construct a discourse of sound both in and around the visual arts through the creation of a new genre: sound art. To list just the most major of the recent efforts: in museums, the exhibitions Bed of Sound (MoMA PS1, 2000), Sonic Process (Centre Pompidou, 2001), See This Sound (Lentos Kunstmuseum, 2009), Soundings: A Contemporary Score (MoMA, 2013), and, in print, the published collections Sound by Artists (Art Metropole, 1990) and Sound (Whitechapel, 2011) as well as Alan Licht’s Sound art: beyond music, between categories (Rizzoli International Publications, 2007) and Branden LaBelle’s Background noise: perspectives on sound art (Continuum International, 2006). The sheer heterogeneity included in these surveys indicates, however, that sound will not submit to art so easily. The first problem is that sound art is too new. Generally, curators and writers making efforts to formulate a discrete category of sound art often focus on contemporary practitioners, and with good reason: it is only very recently that visual arts practitioners or experimental musicians have begun to identify as sound artists. Inversely, sound art is also too old. As any exhibition or book survey reveals, artists have been working with sound to varying degrees and towards varying ends for quite some time. Once one includes sound in visual art, one finds it almost everywhere, from the intonarumori of the Italian Futurists to the experiments of conceptual artists in the late 1960s. From that point on, the ease of access to recording technologies allowed many artists to use sound in their work. Laurie Anderson and Vito Acconci, for example, have a considerable body of work in recorded sound, but they did not work in this format exclusively. Moreover, the very use of sound as a framing concept often feels out-dated. In the post-medium plurality of contemporary art that marks the present, it seems insufficient to define an artistic practice by its medium only. Of course, artists, curators, critics, and historians are aware of the problems of framing sound art. Indeed, presentations of sound often attempt to conceptually frame sound as unframeable, as amorphous, immaterial and experiential. But sound is more than just an affective experience. It is imbricated in historical, political and technological conditions. When considered in these terms, a new focus on sound has the potential to challenge many of our received narratives of 20th century art. The current exhibition marks the first year of the new Sound Arts MFA Program at Columbia University. The new program has not emerged out of nowhere, however. It grows out of an extensive history of experimenting with sound, starting with the establishment of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center—the oldest electroacoustic music center in the United States—in 1958, and its transformation, in 1996, into the Columbia University Computer Music Center. True to the necessarily interdisciplinary nature of sound, the Program is a collaboration between the School of the Arts, the Department of Music, and the Computer Music Center. How the new Sound Arts Program negotiates each of the problems we have laid out above is a story that has yet to be written. We would like to suggest that it is despite—or precisely because of—these difficulties that the new program presents such an exciting opportunity. Sound art has both too much history and not enough. Rather than telling artists what to do, the discursive frame of sound art can clear the way for artists, curators, critics, and historians working with sound to shape new methods and techniques, to forge new histories and vocabularies, and to articulate new forms of critical and creative practice. NOLAN LEM (KANSAS CITY, MO) DICE ROLL (2014) Plywood, metal, fishing Line, dice, motors, foam paper, wood, pulleys, electronics. Dice Roll reveals a kinetic network of rolling dice that explores the acoustic topographies of both sound and space through the interplay of order and chaos, pattern and noise, equilibrium and entropy. As such, each die in the system is both a sonic and motile interactant, housed in a machine that sustains them in perpetual motion as they strike pieces of wood strewn across the floor. The dice, as a multiplicitous sound object, incite the resonance inherent to the wood’s material and topological orientation. Their disturbations on the wood surfaces demarcate the acoustic topography of the room: different areas of the room amplify and mask various sets of rolling dice. With a range of timbral densities on audio -visual display, the perceptual threshold between discrete and continuous texture forms a survey of different sonic patterns as they emerge from the boundaries of order and noise. Nolan Lem is an instrumentalist, composer and sound ar tist whose work reflects a broad range of influences and mediums. His music has been performed across the US and internationally. He has studied at the Sibelius Academy, Eastman School, the University of Kansas and the University of Miami (FL). He holds degrees in jazz saxophone performance (BM) and Electrical Engineering (BSEE). He currently resides in New York City and is an MFA candidate in Sound Ar ts at Columbia University.



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