Ryoji Ikeda's The Radar Transforms the Architectural Circles of Fondation Vasarely in France

If projection mapping often seems superficial, tacked onto architecture as afterthought, Ryoji Ikeda finds the perfect site for his art in the row of circles at Fondation Vasarly, Aix-en-Provence. There, as noise and beeps coolly hum away, a feed of sonic information flowing like a river, circle and square seem not just convenient geometry but genuine signifier. From moments of sublime abstraction, they become discs of data, portals into a microscope and then a telescope, distant worlds and mapped moons and weather patterns and oscilloscopes. There isn’t a distinction between the architecture and the content: the architecture becomes content. For …

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Part Sculpture, Part Sound: New Work by Tristan Perich, Lesley Flanigan [Videos, Listening]

From top: Tristan Perich’s new piano with 1-bit masterpiece, Lesley Flanigan surrounded by her creations. All images courtesy the artists. Sound may be invisible, setting the air around us aquiver with little visible evidence. But the objects that make sound are physical, and no electronic music is virtual. Composer/musician/sound artists Lesley Flanigan and Tristan Perich continue to explore that material substance of sound, calling attention to the stuff of the media in its purest form. Lesley’s work focuses on the basic technique of amplification; Tristan’s on digital electronics in their rawest sense, 1-bit songs of microcontrollers in chorus. The two …

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Singing Circuits: Who Needs Synths When a No-Input Mixer Sounds This Gorgeous?

Hypnotic and chant-like, this Christian Carrière composition hums and vibrates with what sounds like a chorus of electronic synthesizers. But that’s not what you’re hearing. It’s actually all a “no-input mixer” – a rig that makes use of controlled feedback rather than any other source of sound. It is, as Montreal-based composer Christian describes it, the sound of the circuits inside the mixer singing. And while you may associate feedback with angry distortion, here it’s beautifully tranquil, the rich tones of the circuitry themselves transformed into oscillators. The patterns and layers are all made with a looper. 35-minute mix:

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Quiet Ensemble: Music by Pineapples, Mice, Snails, and Goldfish, and a Theater as Actor

In calm reflections on life and nature, the Quiet Ensemble lets flora and fauna compose their own ambient etudes, following their movements and tuning in on electrical frequencies. Mice running in wheels play music boxes; light and sound trace the slimy path of snails. Fruit charge up thick, glitchy bass, as goldfish perform an audiovisual quartet in rectangular aquaria. Based on Rome, this collective has produced a series of reflective audiovisual performances. Each project takes on a unique personality, musically and philosophically, so let’s look at them in turn. The snails Orienta; è qui ora, che decido di fermarmi from …

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Peter Cusack, recording sounds at Chernobyl in 2007. All photos courtesy the artist.

“You learn a lot about the city by asking about its sound”: Peter Cusack Interview, Sounds

He calls it “sonic journalism.” From the Chernobyl site to inside London, Peter Cusack has been turning his ear to the world’s most interesting places. A leading practitioner of sound art at the intersection of ecology and music, Peter Cusack is a uniquely inspiring voice in music making. So we’re keen to welcome Czech-born writer Zuzana Friday Prikrylova to bring her conversation with the artist, for the first time in English here on CDM. We bring with that exclusive sounds for you to hear from the artist. -Ed. Peter Cusack is a musician and a sound artist with a long …

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Do Not Adjust Your Radio: Surreal Sound Collage Interventions on BBC Radio 4

Before any explanation, perhaps you should listen. This is what some British listeners will hear as they tune into what they think will just be everyday national radio programming. Suffice to say, something will sound a bit off: Artist Christian Marclay is the person responsible for the work, the first of five such commissions in sound art for the widely-heard UK broadcaster BBC Radio 4. (He joins Ruth Ewan, Mark Wallinger, Susan Hiller, and Peter Strickland. More information on Radio 4’s blog.) This is the sort of commission that invites bold experimentation: working with London-based art platform Artangel, a GBP …

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Light Into Tones, in an Optoelectronic Hurdy-Gurdy With Rotating Wheels [Video, Images]

This isn’t like any Hurdy-Gurdy you’ve seen or heard before. Derek Holzer’s optoelectronic Tonewheels Hurdy-Gurdy is a combination of mechanical, optical, and electronic elements, part sculpture and part instrument. It recalls vintage mechanical and optical instruments, but with a sound that is decidedly modern and strange. In the translation, something wonderful happens: this becomes a serious punk instrument, producing surprising, hard-edged sounds. The wheels turn, and the gizmo rocks. Combining disciplines in this sort of design also means merging different skill sets, so it’s telling that input for the instrument has come from other artists, including friend-of-the-site circuit designer Eric …

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Pinball Pianola: Pinball Game Meets a Piano in a Wild Constructed Instrument

Pinball Pianola from Lucas Abela on Vimeo. The mechanical and kinetic collide – literally – with the sonic, in a devilishly-inventive hybrid instrument that cross-breeds a pinball table with a piano. Australian artist Lucas Abela is joining us next month as part of CTM Festival: The Golden Age. In the meantime, he shares this work. I’ve devised a Frankenstein experiment, combining the greatest musical invention of all time, the Piano; with the coolest amusement machines ever conceived; Pinball, to create an interactive sound installation like no other; ‘Pinball Pianola’, a musical device constructed by replacing the keyboard, hammers and front …

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Low-frequency sine waves make for a record that looks beautiful, too.

WOW: One Album, One Really Low Sine Wave, Most Minimal Record Ever

Digital or analog, it doesn’t matter: any sound you hear is heard in the real world. The playback device, the environment, all impact the sound. For evidence, try playing a record with a single frequency and nothing else. That’s the case with WOW. Perhaps the best recorded equivalent of John Cage’s legendary four-plus minutes of scored silence, the record WOW is in physical form as minimal as could be. It’s contains a single, ultra-low-frequency pitch (hear it on YouTube below, provided you have some speakers or headphones with enough low-end response). WOW is, then, about where it’s played as much …

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Music and Architecture: Corpus Sets Spaces into Resonance, in an Eerie Hum

Imagine an architectural music in which the surfaces, materials, and forms of a space speak directly. In Corpus, resonant frequencies make that happen. The architecture sings. French duo Art of Failure, Nicolas Maigret & Nicolas Montgermont, regularly explore media at the point of failure in their audiovisual work. They use the metaphor of glass, visible only as it accumulates flaws (dust and scratches). For Corpus, they make architectural spaces sonic by finding resonant frequencies. The results are eerie, as forms emit long, plaintive drones. They’ve also done a beautiful job of documenting the results, with videos that are essays on …

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