Aural Cultures

 
Curated by Jim Drobnick
Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff
May 7-June 26, 2005
http://www.banffcentre.ca/wpg/exhibitions/



Artists: ARCHIVE, Kevin Ei-ichi deForest, Jeremy Deller, Kenneth Doren, Christian Marclay, Annie Martin, Daniel Olson, Santiago Sierra, Don Simmons, Su-Mei Tse.
  Sounds resonate in every social activity – from ritual chants and symphonic concerts to cacophonous revelries and respectful silences. These acoustic situations do more than reflect cultural sensibility, they create it as a living presence. Engaging bodies, experience and the rhythm of relations, sound merges individuals into larger collectivities. Yet not all aural events are culturally sanctioned. Embarrassing, noisome or neglected sounds reveal cultural preoccupations as much as mainstream musical trends. Other sonic phenomena bear a radical potential to disrupt conventions of listening. If the ways in which sound can manifest or transmit cultural values are numerous, the converse is also valid: audioworks can interrogate the politics of melody and harmony, orchestrate atypical bodily and environmental noises, and construct alternative identities and communities.

This exhibition explored artistic practices that reverberate at the intersection of aurality and culture. Contrary to the neo-modernist trend in contemporary audio art – in which soundworks foreground abstraction, perceptual effects, technological processes and self-referentiality – the works in Aural Cultures affirm the embeddedness of sound and its connection to the social. The videos, sculptures, site-specific interventions, performance documentations and viewer-activated installations of this show, located in and beyond the gallery (see map), all address sounds that reference the world and society.

See also Jim Drobnick, ed., Aural Cultures, anthology and CD, Toronto & Banff: YYZ Books & Walter Phillips Gallery Editions, 2004, 288 pp.
 
ARCHIVE, Full Metal Jacket, 2005.
Audio installation.
   
Working with hundreds of film industry sound effects, ARCHIVE (Chris Kubick and Anne Walsh) investigate and critique the American obsession with guns, Hollywood representations of violence, and the degree to which realism is dependent upon the artifice of absurdly detailed sound engineering.
  ARCHIVE, Full Metal Jacket, 2005.
Audio installation.
Kevin Ei-ichi deForest, I Was Afraid/It’s Gonna Come Soon – Mall Mix, 2004.
Audio sculpture.
   
By combining ambient sounds from malls in Japan and Canada with pensive thoughts about the past and future, Kevin Ei-ichi deForest’s culturally hybridized tent creates a space for contemplating transnational identities and the dynamics of self-othering.
  Kevin Ei-ichi deForest, I Was Afraid/It’s Gonna Come Soon – Mall Mix, 2004.
Audio sculpture.
Jeremy Deller, History of the World/Acid Brass, 1997/2004.
Wallwork/CD.
   
Jeremy Deller’s wallwork and CD follows Lenin’s axiom that “Everything is connected to everything else” by intertwining the sociology and politics of two seemingly unrelated British groups (and their distinctive musical genres): working class brass bands and acid house enthusiasts.
  Jeremy Deller, History of the World/Acid Brass, 1997/2004.
Wallwork/CD.
Kenneth Doren, The Hell after High, 2005.
Audio installation.
   
Stepping into Kenneth Doren’s black-lit chamber is a throwback to the adolescent admiration of virtuosic guitar solos and heavy metal penchant for lawlessness and blasphemy, yet the source of the music is one of the giants of Baroque classical music and an exemplar of spiritual aspiration.
  Kenneth Doren, The Hell after High, 2005.
Audio installation.
Christian Marclay, Mixed Reviews (American Sign Language), 2001.
Video monitor, (30:00).
   
Christian Marclay translates the exuberant, percussive prose of music reviews into the silent but dramatic gestures of American Sign Language, testing music’s dual ability to overwhelm language yet still be able to express and communicate.
  Christian Marclay, Mixed Reviews (American Sign Language), 2001.
Video monitor, (30:00).
Annie Martin, Relaxation: Songs for City Dwellers, 2004.
Audio installation.
 
Annie Martin creates a cozy retreat for sonic meditation in the Professional Development Centre lounge where the soothing chords of relaxation music blends with discordant urban noise pollution to paradoxically unite trauma’s cause and its reputed cure.
  Annie Martin, Relaxation: Songs for City Dwellers, 2004.
Audio installation.
Daniel Olson, As Above, So Below (Universal Whatever), 2005.
Audio installation.
   
Daniel Olson fills the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building “silo” with a collaged version of the soundtrack to Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, spatializing the suspenseful narrative of international intrigue and family crisis up and down the stairs’ four flights.
  Daniel Olson, As Above, So Below (Universal Whatever), 2005.
Audio installation.
Santiago Sierra, El Degüello, 2003.
Video projection + text.
   
Santiago Sierra’s twenty-four hour bugle performance of the “slaughter song,” employed by Spanish and Mexican armies, demonstrates how sound has served as a weapon of warfare; even when culturally appropriated and geographically displaced, it can function as a form of resistance and symbolic intimidation.
  Santiago Sierra, El Degüello, 2003.
Video projection + text.
Don Simmons, Coming Attractions, 2005.
Off-site installations.
   
Don Simmons, also working with film soundtracks, this time from international films, cues visitors into experiencing vivid emotional states as they ponder scenic vistas and traverse quotidian locations in and around the gallery building.
  Don Simmons, Coming Attractions, 2005.
Off-site installations.
Su-Mei Tse, L’Écho, 2003.
Video projection.

 
Su-Mei Tse, a classically trained cellist, revises the notion of the sublime from visual to sonic terms, replacing awe and immensity for a sympathetic call-and-response dialogue with a subtly rebellious Alpine echo.
  Su-Mei Tse, L’Écho, 2003.
Video projection.
< back