Curated by Contour Editions

Contour Editions is a platform focused on presenting the work of contemporary artists that are exploring the various possibilities of sound and moving image. Our objective is to make accessible time-based works that are engaged with notions of listening, vision, media exploration, materiality, process, and concept. These publications take the shape of online listening and/or viewing works, multi-channel sound installations, post-installation material, text/speech, and more. Contour Editions continued effort is to reach audiences globally on a personalized level, facilitating the presentation of independent original works of art. Subsequently, establishing a community of artists sharing similar interests towards incrementally instituting a significant archive of media works.

Contributing Artists:

Merche Blasco, Andy Graydon, Cecilia Lopez

Merche Blasco
"Transductive Gestures; Escala, EEMF01"
Year: 2018
Duration: 22’26”

Escala is a piece commissioned by the artist Andrea Wolf, for her video installation Weather has been nice. The installation, in the artist’s words, is a series of generative video pieces in which vintage; found postcards are slowly broken down into their basic elements. A pixel-sorting algorithm manipulates the postcards, creating a system where the elements are continuously regenerating and composing new images. In the spirit of the generative quality of the video, I programmed a generative sound system that reads the same postcard images used in the installation. The software traces hose images pixel by pixel and generates multiple musical parameters, in response to the varying color values of the pixels. The sounds generated are a mix of synthesized compositions and processed recordings of voices reading the content of the same postcards. The piece has been presented in theNEW INC End-of-Year Showcase at the New Museum in NY in 2016, andat Sala de Arte CCU in Santiago de Chile.

Composition by Merche Blasco
Postcards used as part of the score provided by Andrea Wolf
Voice recordings provided by Andrea Wolf
Photograph by Caroll Taveras

EEMF01 is the first in a multichannel and site-specific series, in which I explore the electromagnetic activity of the spaces where the pieces are performed. EEMF01 is an exploration of the electromagnetic activity in Knockdown Center, a former door factory in Queens, NY. While performing another piece there in 2013, I noticed the building channeled different radio signals through its architecture, introducing multiple unintended sounds into my set. For EEMF01 four years later, I wanted to put that particular feature of the space to intentional use. My process began with the collection of electromagnetic field recordings from the building and its surroundings, which I later edited and spacialized for the 12 speaker configuration in the performance. These sounds were accompanied by my live improvisation with electric guitar and electric toothbrushes, and combined with a battery-powered circuit I carried around the space to pick up, and amplify, different radio signals channeled through the structure of the building. This piece is a stereo recording from that live performance, where the recorder was set at the center of the circle of 12 speakers.

Bio: Merche Blasco is an interdisciplinary artist and composer based in New York.

Her work involves designing and building imprecise technological assemblages that catalyze new listening modes and embodied forms of live composition in electroacoustic sounds. Through these devices, Blasco attempts to establish a more horizontal relationship with audio technologies, distancing herself from parameters of precision, power, and control. She instead explores collaborative spaces where these instruments render audible unheard energetic forces, and offer a composition methodology in which her body and the live exploration of alternative materials are central elements.

She has presented her performances and installations at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Sonar Festival in Barcelona, La Biennale di Venezia, NIME conferences, Tsonami International Sound Art Festival in Chile, The High Line in New York, SONIC Festival, Mapping Festival (Geneva), Queens Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago de Chile, among others. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wire magazine.

Merche is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in music composition at New York University (GSAS)

Andy Graydon
Year: 2018
Duration: 40’ 57”

Track 1: Former East
Track 2: Former-and-Longeron

Former began with a year’s collection of field recordings, spanning 2012 and 2013. These were recorded during passages of daily life, mostly in and around Berlin, many at the studio or at home. These quotidian moments include occasional experiences of music and performance, from street market buskers to sound art exhibitions to my son exploring the studio’s detuned piano. I approached these recordings as intervals of experience, as sounds that revealed their value through unhewn textures and frank expressions. The work of composing Former was largely an attempt to bring these experiences-in-sound into conversation without reducing them to a single surface or unified tone. To maintain a roughened multivocality seemed important; to hear a conversation in process, between elements in the world, of which I was one.

In order to both capture and expand upon this idea of sound as experience and process, I developed a new compositional technique for the production of Former. I played back the finished tracks of the pieces in my studio, through monitor loudspeakers and simultaneously through noise-cancelling headphones. Under these headphones I wore binaural microphones in my ears, through which I could record a combination of the headphone sound (switching between noise-cancelling mode and not), the loudspeaker sound, and the incidental sounds of the studio, the street, and my own activities. As I listened in the studio I moved around and tried to respond to the work unfolding around me, attempting a kind of live duo improvisation with the recorded work. This re-recorded element was then brought back into the composition, where I could mix it back into the final work at will. Many of the shifts in tone, proximity, reverberation, even feedback are acoustic effects of this re-performance and re-recording process.

The original field recordings were digitally processed and edited, and the final work composed on the computer. This was done partly in Krems, Austria, during my artist residency at AIR Krems, and finished in my studio in Berlin. Former includes recorded elements of the work of Takeshi Nishimoto and Yukitomo Hamasaki, Pierre Gerard, David Papapostolou, Luigi Nono, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, the Wandelweiser Group, Graham Graydon, my students in the NYU Berlin sound art studio class, and the PALAOA Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean. These were recorded in situ during live events or from environments in which the sound was an ongoing element. These function not so much as “samples” but rather as acoustic traces, pieces that have been transformed by memory, montage and computer processing.

The title refers to two senses of the word “former”. The first, Former East refers to my neighborhood in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, which had been part of East Berlin during the city’s division. The second piece, Former-and-Longeron refers to the technique of ship and aircraft fuselage construction in which bands called formers encircle the empty volume of the craft, giving it its shape. I felt that both senses had a natural resonance with my experiences of the previous year, and the ways in which those experiences were materialized in sound.

Bio: Working in film and video, sound, performances and installations, Andy Graydon tracks the wayward lives of forms in the world, from morphogenesis to translation to decay. Interested in natural and social ecologies, and the role of listening and the voice, Graydon’s work engages structures of music such as scoring, improvisation, collective emergence and community.

Graydon is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Maui, Hawai’i. His work has been presented internationally at the New Museum; Participant Inc, New York; Berlinische Galerie, Berlin; the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Mass.; Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawai’i; Wroclaw Media Arts Bienniale, Poland; and others. Graydon has been artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire; NKD Norwegian Artists’ Center, Norway; and the Center for Computer Music, Brooklyn College. Graydon received his MFA in Radio, Television, and Film from Northwestern University.

Cecilia Lopez
“Versiones Arruinadas (Ruined Versions)”
Year: 2018
Duration: 27’49”

Versiones arruinadas (ruined versions) is a collection of pieces created over many years on the premise of processing materials. These processes are done by a number of different mediums that range from analog synthesis, kinetic sound sculptures, resonant objects and oddly methodological recording techniques. These procedures are applied alone or combined in an attempt to modify or blur the first layer that we perceive when we listen sound material. What if the normative listening formats were others? What’s left out as residual? Which qualities of content can transcend the way it is delivered?

The material chosen for these operations is in some way capricious in that it responds to my history, preferences and has different reasons to be there. The first piece is made filtering several organ master-works youtube collections by j. S. Bach. The second piece is done with a live recording of "Kilómetro once" by chamamé duo Rudi & Nini Flores processed through an analog synth. The third piece is a filtered multichannel version of a track by the japanese noise-rock band boredoms. The forth piece is a processed version of "I fall in love too easily" by Chet Baker. The fifth piece is a 'ruined version' of a song of mine. And the sixth piece comes from a recording of a reading of Sergio Parra's poem "La manoseada" done by himself—'manosear', in spanish, is 'to put your hands on something and touch it, probably too much'.

The reasons for these operations are as varied as the material. Some things I've heard so many times that have already solidify as different pieces in the way I listen to them. Some of this music that is processed is extremely hard for me to listen, and the process is done in an attempt to change that perceptive focus. Others are just the result of unusual listening practices (mostly listening through objects) that have become a matter of research for me.

Bio:  Cecilia Lopez is a composer, musician and installation artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her work explores perception and transmission processes focusing on the relationship between sound technologies and listening practices. For this, she creates and experiments with alternative listening devices, working with the materiality of the sound sources as bodies of resonance, where there is no neutral point of listening.