October 2015 By Erik Summerville Borderbend Arts Collective, Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site, Outdoor Afro, and Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE) co-presented a multi-faceted community engagement sound event at Chicago’s Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site on Saturday, October 3rd. Eric […]
The April-June 2015 WFAE News Quarterly is now online. This issue focuses on of WFAE affiliate news; a tribute to Peter Grant; a call for papers for publication in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, Balance-Unbalance 2015, and a summary of recent research projects.
MSAE 2014 year-in-review, plus what’s ahead in 2015.
We hope this New Year has started off well as we take time to reflect and take note of our activities and prospects. Happily, the MSAE had an extremely productive 2014. Highlights of the year and into 2015 include:
- Eric Leonardson led a soundwalk and Chicago Phonography performance at Brushwood Center in Ryerson Woods on January 25, 2015. Performers included Todd Carter, Chad Clark, Ed Herrmann, Monica Ryan, and Chicago Wildsounds members Roni Jachowski, Matt Connor, and Lisa Kenny. Nearly 60 people participated in the soundwalk including many Ragdale artists-in-residence. Chicago Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman published an interview with Leonardson about the event on Monday, January 19. Nearly 60 people participated in the event.
- Chicago Wildsounds is new and exciting acoustic ecology student group at DePaul University. We look forward to their upcoming public event “Rooted in Sound: A Night of Soundscapes,” at 5:30pm on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at the DePaul Art Museum. Please visit our website for details.
- The American Society for Acoustic Ecology (ASAE) will lead a pre-conference Acoustic Ecology Recording Workshop for Balance-Unbalance 2015: Water, Climate and Place, Reimagining Environments. In the conference Eric Leonardson and Andrea Polli will lead a panel entitled Eco-sensing in Higher Education Curriculum. Panel Participants are Linda Keane (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Leah Barclay (UNESCO Biosphere Soundscapes project), Christopher Preissing (Independent Artist), Lindsay French (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Meredith Hoy (Arizona State University), Leonardson and Polli. Leonardson will also present his paper, Our Sonic Playground: A Model for Active Engagement in Urban Soundscapes.
All are invited to a soundwalk in Ryerson Woods, Riverwoods, IL, followed by a performance by Chicago Phonography at the Brushwood Center, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Sunday, January 25, 2015. This event is free and open to the public, and co-presented by the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and the World Listening Project.
Beginning October 4 the Mixage Fou Sound Bank will be available for the creation of original sound pieces. Works may be music compositions, sound narration, soundscapes, crazy mixes, etc. The duration is limited to 80 seconds. The deadline for submission of original sound pieces is November 16.
At the beginning of the evening, on Tuesday, October 25th, visitors gathered under the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)’s Kern Terrace for a short introduction to the program titled Our Sonic Playground. Eric Leonardson spoke elegantly of the relationship, mediated through sound, between living beings and their environment. Folks were encouraged to actively engage through concentrated listening at the pop-up listening stations and among the black faux-marble floors, steel columns, and industrial lighting of the MCA. Paper and pencil were handed out to participants as they deployed themselves around the museum. Trace, gesture and sound patterns were to emerge in a process of multi-perceptual experience. Listening next to the sliced mobiles of Alexander Calder one might have literally drawn a distinction between sound that is omnidirectional and vision that is unidirectional. Emphasized throughout the program were exercises that led listeners to create, share, and connect with each other around content relevant to the core mission of the MSAE while remaining uninhibited to construct their own meaning from experience.
Pop-up listening stations were separated between three levels of the MCA and staged to introduce unconventional entrances into deeper listening. In short these pop-ups were an assembly of small listening systems that included inductors applied in an electromagnetic field, contact microphones submerged in thawing ice, friction mallets spontaneously stricken on smooth MCA surfaces and resonant structures, accelerometers placed on the museum’s signature staircase, and a parabolic reflector collecting and converging sound energy toward the focus of distant sources. Depending on which pop-up, sounds were diffused by either headphones or speakers. Collectively these systems generated a central question that asked how it is we interpret sound phenomena that embody specific places. Leonardson touched on this in his opening address, “Sounds are all around us, creating our environments, our sense of place and influencing our social interactions.”
In the Kanter Room a remote listening station was devised by SAIC faculty member Lindsey French with the input of students enrolled in her Sensing the Landscape course. A hand-drawn map of the city of Chicago was projected onto the wall with different points of light on the map vibrating and distorting according to an audio signal. Each of these points corresponded to live audio signals streaming from domestic interiors. These sounds were played on speakers inside the darkened and semi-isolated Kanter Room. It was transfixing to watch points of light swell and recede according to the amplitude, attack, and familial occupation of sound. Philosopher Jean-Francois Augoyard reasoned in Sonic Experience: A Guide To Everyday Sounds that sound should be understood primarily as temporality. The illuminated expansion and contraction of sound depicted on French’s map seemed to underpin Augoyard’s proposition; pointing further towards the paradox that embodies sound: that which is used to propagate it also extinguishes it. (Time).
For the phonography performance at the end of the evening unfamiliar participants brought an array of their own collected field recordings to play back as an ensemble. In the sound ecology formulation, hi-fi soundscape is generally associated with sparse wilderness and rural landscapes and low-fi is often associated with urban and industrial soundscapes. Over the thirty minutes of this improvised performance disparate soundscapes were merged inconceivably, collapsing narrative and leaving only texture in its wake.
By continuing to provide these kinds of participatory programs the MSAE teaches us that sounds are subjective and connote ways of human knowing and best supported through multi-directional content experiences. The MSAE is serving as a “platform” that connects different users who act as content creators, distributors, consumers, critics, and collaborators. While this means the MSAE cannot guarantee the consistency of every participant’s experiences, it does open up new ways for diverse people to express themselves and engage with the institutional practices of acoustic ecology.
SAIC faculty: Lindsey French, Eric Leonardson Listening stations: Laura Campuzano, Nicholas Davis, Devin DiSanto, Guido Gambo, Tom Haigh, Peter LaRue, Neal Markowski, Kyle Nilan Phonography performance: Chad Clark, Dan Godston, Norman Long, Monica Ryan, Jessica Speer
THE EMPTY SPACE : Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology / World Listening Project A joint release by The World Listening Project and The Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, The Empty Space is now available on the Wandering Ear net.label. Launched in 2006, Wandering Ear is dedicated […]
On Wednesday, February 29 MSAE member Eric Leonardson moderated a panel discussion at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) on the development of sound recording as an art form in its own right.
Hosted by the Departments of Sculpture and Sound, the discussion examined the development of the art via the historical development of photography. Discussed was the development of non-music sound recording as art in relationship to photography.
Katherine Bussard, SAIC Art History Professor and AIC Curator
Lisa Dorin, AIC Associate Curator in Contemporary Art
Ken Fandell, artist, SAIC Professor and Photo Department Chair
Bill Fontana, artist and William and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Professor for SoundSculpture
Anna Friz, artist and Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Sound
Lou Mallozzi, artist, Executive Director of Experimental Sound Studio, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sound
The event was part of the Sound Department’s Weekly Colloquium series and co-sponsored with the SAIC Sculpture Department. It was streamed live on Free Radio SAIC. (Audio excerpts from the live stream may be available here in the future.)
1–3 p. m. (Central Time), Saturday, October 8 Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore 100 N Lake Street, Gary, Indiana 46403 Douglas Center Telephone: 219-395-1772 . contact: Ranger Julianne Larsen, Telephone: (219) 395-1821 (Tuesday – Saturday) MSAE contact, Eric […]