SOUND POSITIONS | 2016

Curated by Christoph Cox


Sound Positions creates immersive and intimate situations for listening to work by an international selection of emerging and established sound artists. The exhibition will feature 12 listening stations, each dedicated to the work of one artist.

Christoph Cox is Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College and visiting faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. He is the author of Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Materialism (forthcoming) and Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (California, 1999) and co-editor of Realism Materialism Art (Sternberg, 2015) and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004). The recipient of an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, Cox is editor-at-large at Cabinet magazine. His writing has appeared in October, Artforum, Journal of the History of Philosophy, The Wire, Journal of Visual Culture, Organised Sound, The Review of Metaphysics, and elsewhere. He has curated exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Kitchen, New Langton Arts, and G Fine Art Gallery and other venues.


Contributing Artists:


AGF | Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere | Blevin Blectum | Marina Rosenfeld | Mattin |
Michael Pisaro | Samson Young | Tomomi Adachi





SOUND POSITIONS | 2015

Curated by Christoph Cox



Sound Positions creates immersive and intimate situations for listening to work by an international selection of emerging and established sound artists. The exhibition will feature 12 listening stations, each dedicated to the work of one artist.

Christoph Cox is Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College and visiting faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. He is the author of Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Materialism (forthcoming) and Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (California, 1999) and co-editor of Realism Materialism Art (Sternberg, 2015) and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004). The recipient of an Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, Cox is editor-at-large at Cabinet magazine. His writing has appeared in October, Artforum, Journal of the History of Philosophy, The Wire, Journal of Visual Culture, Organised Sound, The Review of Metaphysics, and elsewhere. He has curated exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Kitchen, New Langton Arts, and G Fine Art Gallery and other venues.


Contributing Artists:


Lawrence Abu Hamdan | Olivia Block | Maria Chavez | Holly Herndon | Ernst Karel | Matt Krefting | Chris Kubick
Jake Meginsky | Aura Satz | Jennifer Walshe | Yan Jun | Dajuin Yao


Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Shudder the Thought: A Near Future Fiction in Stereo Sound, 2017 (2015), 9:15
Known for his examination of the voice in law, Lawrence Abu Hamdan presents a prophetic tale that warns of advances in invasive audio-recording technology. A man’s voice, speaking from the year 2017, explains how one’s speech can be traced by measuring the indentation of its sound vibrations upon a surface. In this new world, objects, furniture, and architecture may all become complicit in storing our conversations. As the first machine to communicate the voice back-and-forth over distance, the telephone is the device used by the protagonist to proclaim his message.

Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s work frequently deals with the relationship between listening and politics, borders, human rights, testimony and truth through the production of documentaries, essays, audio-visual installations, video works, graphic design, sculpture, photography, workshops and performance. He continues to make sonic analyses for legal investigations and advocacy. His forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College London where he is also a PhD candidate and associate lecturer.
lawrenceabuhamdan.com


Olivia Block, Lists of Objects and Values (2015), 11:03
This composition is constructed from a collection of 1980s and 90s microcassette recordings bought on ebay. Interested in the way people used microcassette recorders for keeping logs and documenting intimate conversations, Block noticed that many recordings resemble one another in terms of subject matter, style, and rhythm, and began looking for patterns. For this piece, she was drawn to recordings of people listing objects and monetary values. Block conceives these recordings as inadvertent expressions of what anthropologist Igor Kopytoff calls the “methodological fetishism” of things. Lists of objects become catalogs of waste during a decadent period in American history.

Olivia Block creates original sound compositions for concerts, site-specific multi-speaker installations, live cinema, and performance. Her compositions include sounds from field recordings, chamber instruments, amplified objects and electronic instruments. Block creates scores for large ensemble, string quartet, and orchestra. Block’s sound work reflects her interests in site specificity, cinematic sound, ethnographic listening practices, and the utilization of found materials. Her most recent release, Aberration of Light (2015), is on NNA tapes.
www.oliviablock.net


Maria Chavez, “I Just Know It …” (2015) 1:14
In this piece, interview recordings are edited then randomly aligned forming the phrase “I just know it …” Repetition of the letters and words allows pronunciation to separate from the message while drawing attention to hidden sounds that can otherwise be ignored. With the benefit of headphones each listener explores the sonic potential of the phrase. The piece reminds us that language is a fragile and illogical construct, loosely bound to reality by cultural convention.

Born in Lima, Peru, Maria Chávez is an abstract turntablist, sound artist, and DJ. She has worked with Christian Marclay and shared the stage with artists such as Pauline Oliveros, Thurston Moore, Merce Cunningham, Phill Niblock and Otomo Yoshihide. In 2012, Chávez wrote and illustrated Of Technique: Chance Procedures on Turntable, a how-to manual presenting the turntablist techniques she has developed. In addition to her live turntable improvisations, she has composed for chamber ensembles and produced multi-channel sound installations. Chávez recently signed with Software Recordings, a record label founded by Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) and is due to release a new LP in early 2016.
mariachavez.org


Holly Herndon, Body Sound (2014), 7:44
“Body Sound” was composed by Herndon in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Cuauhtemoc Peranda, whose body acts like a voice, guiding the listener through this complex yet visceral piece. Herndon restructured the sounds of the dancer’s body to make an arrangement that is simultaneously rhythmic, fragmented, and incredibly physical. In real time, she spatialized the sound-body using ambisonics in a field of 8 speakers, while Peranda performed the original choreography, creating an uncanny duet of physical and virtual bodies. “Body Sound” is all about the dancer making contact with the ground; a dragged heels squeaks, his rolling torso sends tumbling shockwaves through the speakers, and each stomp of a foot is a blast of sub-bass. Herndon builds on this source material, taking time to bend the sounds into an abstract sculptural form, only to pause again and reveal the dancer’s sonorous breath.

Born in Tennessee, Holly Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s minimal techno scene before repatriating to San Francisco, where she currently lives and studies as a doctoral candidate at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Herndon’s debut album Movement (2012) showcased her fascination with trance and the disjunctive sampling techniques pioneered by avant-garde composition. The subsequent singles “Chorus” and “Home” (both 2014) humanized the laptop by celebrating its capacity for memory-storage and lamenting its vulnerability in light of revelations of mass surveillance. Her latest record, Platform (2015), channels the chaos and clangor of transmediated experience.
www.hollyherndon.com | hollyherndon.tumblr.com


Ernst Karel, Mycological (2014) 32:11
Mycology (the study of fungi) is a scientific discipline to which amateurs contribute significantly by collecting specimens and contextual ecological data. This sound piece begins in a mycology lab at Harvard with DNA analysis, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method of “amplifying” a particular region of DNA in order to determine species. A cart is trundled down a corridor leading to the sterilizing autoclave machine; a researcher dissolves pellets in liquid using a vortex stirring machine. Next, the Farlow Herbarium – where the efforts of professionals and amateurs overlap – contains collections of fungi dating back to the mid-1800s, catalogued and kept in folded paper with precise handwriting detailing the contents. A mycologist working on a particular species represented in the collections carefully repackages these specimens in acid-free, archival paper, rewriting in pencil the currently-accepted Latin classifications. Finally, on a Sunday foray of the Boston Mycological Club, a senior member discusses the notion of the edge habitat, and at the annual Cape Cod Foray, participants examine several species of the genus Rhizopogon.

Ernst Karel makes experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance. His recent projects are edited/composed using unprocessed location recordings, which, in performance, are sometimes combined with analog electronics to create pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. Recent recordings include Swiss Mountain Transport Systems (2011), Materials Recovery Facility (2012), and Dreiländereck (2013). Video with multichannel sound collaborations include Ah humanity! (2015, with Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor) and Single Stream (2014, with Pawel Wojtasik and Toby Lee). Recent nonfiction vilms on which he has done sound work include The Iron Ministry, Manakamana, and Leviathan, all produced in the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, where as a Lecturer on Anthropology, he teaches a class in sonic ethnography.
ek.klingt.org


Matt Krefting, “Worried Wolves and Miserable Marvels” (2015)
“Worried Wolves . . .” is a series of short loops exploring the notion of the disappointment inherent in expectation. You arrive at a lauded vacation destination only to find it every bit as predictable as the place from which you’ve ostensibly escaped. You’ve been hurrying and scurrying just so that you can finally relax and have some fun, only to find that you can’t leave your anxiety at the door, your expectations haunt you at every turn; and even in the glare of the most brilliant sunset or spectacular autumn forest you’ve ever seen, you find yourself wondering, “Am I enjoying this enough?” And then it’s time to go back to work.

A writer and musician, Matt Krefting formed the long-running experimental trio Son of Earth with Aaron Rosenblum and John Shaw in 2000, played bass in The Believers, and performs with Idea Fire Company and Orchid Spangiafora. His music has been released by Open Mouth, Ultra Eczema, Ecstatic Peace!, and Kye, among other labels. A regular contributor to The Wire, Krefting’s writing also appears in surround, Bull Tongue Review, The Huffington Post. Chapbooks of his work have been published by Kendra Steiner Editions and Glass Eye Books. Another Night on the Town, a collection of Krefting’s poems with drawings by Dennis Tyfus, was published in 2014 by Ultra Eczema.
kreftingmoondawn.wordpress.com


Chris Kubick, “Many Many More Than One IV” (2015) 9:15
Many Many More Than One uses as its source material the sounds of audiences and crowds of various sizes. Where much electronic music uses white, brown or pink noise to shape and generate tones, I use these crowd sounds, which to my ear are a richer and more organic form of noise. The sounds are drawn from various Hollywood sound effects libraries that I collected while working as a film sound designer in Los Angeles. Some of these recordings are archival in nature, others were recorded on film sets. I intend this work as a kind of meditation or perhaps even a prayer for collective struggle.

Chris Kubick is an artist, composer, and sound designer who works under a variety of pseudonyms, including Language Removal Services and Many Many More Than One. Much of his recent work explores the meanings and half-truths embodied in Hollywood sound effects libraries. He comes to this work in part through a long and happy association with the dark corners of B-movie Hollywood, having spent more than a little time designing sounds for movies you’d probably never want to see (Black Cadillac, Flatland, The Bloody Deep, etc.), and a few that you really should see if you get the chance (What America Needs, We Will Live To See These Things). Kubick frequently collaborates with Anne Walsh as doubleArchive, whose best-known project, Art After Death, consists of interviews with artists who have died conducted through spirit mediums. His work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Vancouver Art Gallery and the Royal College of Art, London, among many others.
www.doublearchive.com | www.languageremoval.com


Jake Meginsky, Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes (2015), 21:58
The sound world of this composition is stripped down to four elements: sinewaves, squarewaves, white noise, and an 808 kick drum. Prismatic variations on a collection of palindromic rhythmic motifs orbit around one another to a fluctuating tempo that shimmers and pulses throughout the seven sections of this piece. The electronics hover at the edge of perception, with subharmonic bass tones continually paired with quivering pitches at the top of our hearing range. As the patterns spin in and out of phase, an additional layer of rhythm and clustered melody emerge as a result of interference beating tones and binaural phenomena. Often the listener will experience phantom sounds and patterns as the brain attempts to process two closely oscillating pitches split between the left and right ear.

Musician and composer Jake Meginsky builds his own customized instruments, speakers and electronic circuitry, combining them with percussion, modular drum machines, magnetic tape and sampling equipment. He has collaborated and performed with artists such as Milford Graves, Joan LaBarbara, Vic Rawlings, Alvin Lucier, Greg Kelley, Bhob Rainey, Joe McPhee, Thurston Moore, William Parker, Daniel Carter, Paul Flaherty, Arthur Brooks, Bill Nace, and John Truscinski. Meginsky frequently collaborates with choreographers, producing work commissioned by Cori Olinghouse, Katie Martin, Paul Matteson, Wendy Woodson, and Gwen Welliver. Meginsky recently remixed Body/Head’s (Kim Gordon & Bill Nace) “Last Mistress” for Matador Records. His newest solo LP, Vandals was released in October 2015 on Open Mouth records.
soundcloud.com/jmeginsky | jakemessinameginsky.tumblr.com


Aura Satz, Dial Tone Drone (2014), 14:26
“Dial Tone Drone” focuses on the familiar pitch of the electronic dial tone, a signal of live telephonic connection that came into widespread use in 1950s. Considering the dial tone as an open field of potential communication, Satz talked with electronic music pioneers Laurie Spiegel and Pauline Oliveros about the technological and perceptual implications of composing and listening to sustained musical notes, known as drone music. Excerpts from the conversations, recorded via Skype and iPhone, are played against compositions by the two composers, probing the political, musical and conceptual implications of the drone.

Aura Satz’s practice encompasses film, sound, performance and sculpture. She engages with technological objects that tap into ideas of knowledge and communication in their use of notation systems, languages or encrypted codes. Several projects have focused on sound visualization technologies, such as Chladni patterns, mechanical music, phonograph grooves, and drawn/optical sound. Satz is also interested in bringing to the fore key female figures that are largely excluded from mainstream historical discourse in an ongoing engagement with the question of women’s contributions to labor, technology and scientific knowledge.
www.iamanagram.com


Jennifer Walshe, 16 Haiku (1995–2015) (8:23)
In 1995, I wrote a piece for voice and piano called “Sixteen Haiku.” The piece set sixteen haiku by the Meiji-era Japanese poet Masaoka Shiki loosely collected into four groups of four, each corresponding to one of the seasons. The piece was one of my proudest possessions at the time because it was my first real composition. In 2015 I came across a cassette recording of this piece and selected sixteen new texts to go with it. The texts include quotations taken from recent internet articles about social media and pop culture alongside material I wrote. The resulting piece constitutes a sort of cadence that took 20 years to complete. Each recording is made in a single take, overdubbing the texts using a 4-track cassette recorder.

Jennifer Walshe’s recent work is heavily influenced by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, focusing on imagined potential or necessary realities and creating their associated artifacts. These artifacts can range from sound works (Walshe’s background is as a composer) to visual works, text, sculpture, fashion and films. Walshe has been awarded a number of international residencies and grants from organizations including the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm and Akademie Schloss Solitude. Recent solo exhibitions include Grúpat (Project Arts Centre, Dublin, Ireland), Nietzsche is for Lovers (Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Venice), IRISH NEED NOT APPLY (Chelsea Art Museum, New York), YOU/PROTECT (Galway Arts Centre, Ireland), and Grúndelweiser (ICA Studio, London).
www.aisteach.org | www.milker.org


Yan Jun, Heineken Reduction (2015) 19:19
The material for Heineken Reduction was recorded during a marathon concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia sponsored by Heineken beer. DJs and indie electronica music played non-stop throughout the event. Confronted with this onslaught of sound, Yan abandoned his original plan and instead decided to produce something more minimal or reduced. Routing the output of a mixer into its own input, he generated feedback to match the flood of bass sounds pumped out by the other performers. As the title suggests, the result is a reductive reworking of the original material. Enjoy your nap.

Yan Jun is Beijing-based musician and poet who produces improvised music, feedback, field recording, and site-specific performance/installation. Yan is interested in small sounds, mistakes, strange states, simple tricks, balance & unbalance and suicided speakers.
yanjun.org


Dajuin Yao, “Satisfaction of Oscillation” (9:26), “Bridge Listening Beijing (Yinding Bridge)” (35:02)
Dajuin Yao’s sound world oscillates between two extremes: his China Sound Unit projects, which confront the reality and aesthetics of the Chinese sonic environment today; and his private world of deep listening. For this exhibition, we hear both a phantasmagoric microcosmos created, through various strategies of modulation and recontextualization, out of Chinese speech, where the recombinant phonetics open up unseen sonic and semantic possibilities, as well as a super-realistic documentation of a time and space that has been totally transformed by China’s rapid social revolution.

Sound artist, producer, curator, radio host, and art historian, Dajuin Yao’s sound works focus on cultural listening. He has worked intensely on the deconstruction of the Chinese language (sound, script, and meaning), modulation of traditional music and opera, urban soundscape, and what he calls “emotional sound art.” In 1997 Dajuin founded China Sound Unit, a pioneering collective phonography project devoted to documenting and recontextualizing Chinese urban sound phenomena with a series of recordings, performances and installations. Dajuin is also a major producer and curator of Chinese sound art. The founder of Post-Concrete Records, his curatorial credits also include the major survey exhibition Sound Art China (New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, 2013/14), Sounding Beijing 2003 International Sound Art Festival, the Shanghai eArts Festival concerts (2008), and Meme City Media Art Festival (2015). He is currently Chair of the Department of Open Media at the China Academy of Art.
www.dajuin.com | www.sndart.com