Data analysis has become an everyday affair in the cultural logic of late capitalism. Not only in terms of applied science, but overall socially, aesthetically and individually as well. The uncritical acceptance of the use of game mechanics in digital life is quickly turning into the most convenient method of collecting data, and finally a second nature. Nonetheless, while the visual rendering and the exposure to pictures or symbols are an ordinary fact, the perception of sound as a tool for auditory display and recognition remains much less common.
Labor Neunzehn presents an exhibition, which focuses on the practices of collecting informations by means of sound. A shortlist of works dealing with sonification, audification and field recording techniques for the exploration of data, global imbalances, climate change, and cultural shifting.#
Artists: Andrea Polli, James Wynes, Asad Ismi & Kristin Schwartz, Luke Twyman, Brian House, Peter Cusack, Stephen Vitiello, Félix Blume
Kiefholzstr.19, 12435 Berlin (Treptow)
„Sonic Antarctica“ features natural and industrial field recordings, sonifications and audifications of science data and interviews with weather and climate scientists. The areas recorded include: the „Dry Valleys“ (77°30’S 163°00’E) on the shore of McMurdo Sound, 3,500 km due south of New Zealand, the driest and largest relatively ice-free area on the continent completely devoid of terrestrial vegetation. Another is the geographic South Pole (90°00’S), the center of a featureless flat white expance, on top of ice nearly 1.7 miles thick.
The „Sonic Antarctica“ Project is a radio broadcast, live performance as well as a sound and visual installation. It features recordings of the Antarctic soundscape made during Andrea Polli’s seven-week National Science Foundation residency in Antarctica during the 2007/2008 season.
The Antarctic is unlike any other place on earth: geographically, politically and culturally. Larger than the US, it is a frontier where borders and nationalities take a back seat to scientific collaboration and cooperation, a place where the compass becomes meaningless, yet, navigation is a matter of life and death. It is an extreme environment that holds some of the most unique species. But it is also an ecosystem undergoing rapid change. 2007/2008 marks the fourth International Polar Year (IPY), the largest and most ambitious international effort to investigate the impact of the poles on the global environment.
Andrea Polli is an artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media installation, public interventions, curating and directing art and community projects and writing. She has been creating media and technology artworks related to environmental science issues since 1999, when she first began collaborating with atmospheric scientists on sound and data sonification projects. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group in New York City, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and AirNow.
In her research and practice, she experiments with performance, interactive and web art, digital broadcasting and mobile media. She is focused on participatory media, and her practice often includes workshops or other activities designed to engage the public with ideas and concepts at various levels. She believes in the importance of many levels of interdisciplinary collaboration and has created collaborative situations for very large groups, small teams, or pairs of individuals.
Polli is currently an Associate Professor of Art and Ecology with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and directs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab at the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing.
…the initial colonization of the Old World (now thought to have occurred one and a half million years ago, or even earlier) led to different homogenous human populations at the peripheries of the human geographic range. There, at the edges, evolutionary forces have different effects than they do at the center of a species’ range which, for humans, is Africa.
Race and Human Evolution, A Fatal Attraction: Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari
The Maker is part of a series of four works entitled Centre and Edge, which explores the sound world of a particular region rich in human and natural history, a region with its fair share of wilderness. The concept of ‘centre and edge’ is investigated across a range of topics: specific compositional practices, the production of space, the anthropology of place names, human intervention in the landscapes and soundscapes, paleoanthropology, bridges and boundaries, the natural history of Southern Scotland, to name a few.
The Maker, in common with the other three works in the series, gives the impression of a massive installation in which microphones have been left open for long durations in various outdoor spaces, attached to built structures such as fences and mountain huts, then all sources fed into the same listening space.
The wealth and complexity of vertical relationships between the various sound sources and their transformations helps the work to defy linear time and to simply exist as a living moving organic whole between and beyond the speakers.
James Wyness is a composer and environmental sound artist based in the Scottish Borders. In his live work he combines layered field recordings and sonic interventions in the landscape with the live manipulation of found objects to create a series of fabricated environments. A constantly shifting mass of natural elements in motion contrasts with representations of wide open spaces, ambiences in which native sounds and human interventions merge, inviting the listener to navigate through deeper listening the time and space of the work.
The Ravaging of Africa, a four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa, featuring voices of African activists interviewed at the 2007 World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Written by Asad Ismi
Produced by Kristin Schwartz
Through the Pentagon and the CIA, the U.S. government has fueled 14 wars in Africa. The methods employed include direct and proxy invasions as well as arms transfers and military training. The U.S. has used the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to systematically demolish African economies and health and education sectors. This military and economic war enables the looting of Africa’s resources by Western multinational corporations. Washington’s genocidal imperial strategy has killed more than 26 million Africans but failed to suppress popular resistance.
1. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.
2. “Economic War” focuses on the World Bank’s and IMF’s decimation of the economies and social sectors of Guinea, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. With Bakary Fofana, Sara Longwe, Caroline Adhiambo, Njuki Githethwa and Molefe Pilane.
3. “Corporate Plunder” details the disastrous effects of Royal Dutch Shell’s operations in Nigeria and those of Canada’s Tiomin Resources in Kenya. Also highlighted is the massive tax looting of Africa by Western corporations. With Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.
4. “African Resistance” celebrates the liberation of Southern Africa, the defeat of U.S. aims in the Congo and Somalia, as well as the diverse non-military struggles against U.S. domination that were represented at the World Social Forum. With Wahu Kaara, Amade Suca, Mfuni Kazadi, Farah Maalim, Virginia Magwaza-Setshedi, Emilie Atchaka and Njeru Munyi.
Asad Ismi is an award-winning writer on international politics specializing in the impact of U.S. and Canadian imperialism on the Global South. He is international affairs correspondent for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, Canada’s biggest left-wing magazine (by circulation). Asad is the author of more than 150 articles, eight reports, six radio documentaries, six books and an anthology. He has written for 21 progressive Canadian unions and non-governmental organizations. For his publications, visit www.asadismi.ws.
Kristin Schwartz is a community-based writer, radio producer and radio broadcaster. She is a founding contributor to GroundWire Community Radio News, a biweekly progressive public affairs program which airs on 25 community radio stations across Canada. She has also produced and reported for Free Speech Radio News in the United States. Her writing has been published in the CCPA Monitor, Labour/Le Travail, and Canada’s independent labour magazine Our Times, and she is the author of “A Million Reasons: The Victory of the $10.00 Minimum Wage Campaign” published by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. Kristin is employed in the settlement sector and is a member of the union Unifor Local 40.
An interactive audio/visual which generates music using the orbital frequencies of the solar system. Each time one of the bodies completes an orbit, it generates a sound, together they weave an ambient space-melody.
Whitevinyl is the visual work of Luke Twyman, freelance in graphic design, illustration and web/interactive design, and based in Brighton UK.
Quotidian Record is a limited edition vinyl recording that features a continuous year of my location-tracking data. Each place I visited, from home to work, from a friend’s apartment to a foreign city, is mapped to a harmonic relationship. 1 day is 1 rotation … 365 days is ~11 minutes.
As the record turns, the markings on the platter indicate both the time as it rotates through every 24 hours and the names of the cities to which I travel. The sound suggests that our habitual patterns have inherent musical qualities, and that daily rhythms might form an emergent portrait of an individual.
As physical vinyl, Quotidian Record may be collected and fetishized, connecting the value of data today with the history of popular music culture. It provides an expressive, embodied, and even nostalgic alternative to the narratives of classification and control typical of state and corporate data infrastructure.
Brian House is a media artist whose work traverses alternative geographies, experimental music, and a critical data practice. He is interested in the contingent qualities of information and how we experience time in network culture. By constructing embodied, participatory systems, he seeks to negotiate between algorithms and the rhythms of everyday life.
Currently, Brian teaches in the Digital + Media program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Previously, he was a member of the New York Times Research and Development Lab, where his work was recognized by TIME in their “50 Best Inventions of 2011″ issue. Brian has also led technology at the award-winning design studio Local Projects, developed courses at Parsons Design & Technology program and Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, and was an artist-in-residence at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center.
Sounds from dangerous places
‘What can we learn of dangerous places by listening to their sounds?’
‘Sonic Journalism’ is the aural equivalent of photojournalism. It describes the practice where field recordings play a major role in the discussion and documentation of places, issues and events and where listening to sounds of all kinds strongly informs the approach to research and following narratives whilst on location.
Recent travels have brought me into contact with some difficult and potentially dangerous places. Most are areas of major environmental/ecological damage, but others are nuclear sites or the edges of military zones. The danger is not necessarily to a short-term visitor, but to the people of the area who have no option to leave or through the location’s role in geopolitical power structures. Dangerous places can be both sonically and visually compelling, even beautiful and atmospheric. There is, often, an extreme dichotomy between an aesthetic response and knowledge of the ‘danger’, whether it is pollution, social injustice, military or geopolitical.
Places visited include:
Chernobyl exclusion zone, Ukraine;
Caspian oil fields, Azerbaijan;
Tigris and Euphrates rivers valleys in South Eastern Turkey threatened by massive dam building projects;
North Wales, UK, where Chernobyl fallout still affects sheep farming practice;
nuclear, military and greenhouse gas sites in the UK, including Sellafield, Dungeness, Bradwell, Sizewell, Thetford Forest, Rainham and Uttlesford;
Peter Cusack is a field recordist and sound artist with a long interest in the sound environment. He is a research fellow and a member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the University of the Arts, London. In 1998 he started the Favourite Sounds Project that explores what people find positive about the soundscapes of the cities – London, Beijing, Chicago, Prague, Birmingham and Berlin – where they live. His project Sounds From Dangerous Places (described as sonic journalism) investigates soundscapes at sites of major environmental damage, currently the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan. During 2011/12 he was a DAAD artist-in-residence in Berlin and started the Berlin Sonic Places project – an on-going study of Berlin’s soundscape. He is based in london and Berlin.
Perhaps best described as the sonification of a visual experience, Light Reading(s) was created by using small, hand-held photocells (cells that vary the flow of electric current according to the amount of light falling on them) to amplify light frequencies from the lights in the artist’s studio and recording rig. The varying currents of light are fed into a small analog circuit, which translates the photocell information into musical form. The corresponding video, recorded by a hand-held micro-camera, consists of footage of the abstract light sources that generate the sound.
Stephen Vitiello (b. 1964, New York City)
Recent solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-2016); A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011); More Songs About Buildings and Bells, Museum 52, New York (2011); and Stephen Vitiello, The Project, New York (2006). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2013); Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002). Vitiello has performed nationally and internationally, at locations such as the Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, New York; and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. In 2011, ABC-TV, Australia produced the documentary Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent. Awards include Creative Capital (2006) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.
Making Of, Son Seul / Wild Tracks
“Félix Blume is a sound engineer for the movies. Like many of his colleagues, he spends hours after the shooting, recording “lonely sounds”. They are called lonely because they don’t have a synchronous image, but it could also come from the fact that the engineer is lonely, away from the bustling sounds of the team, busy finding noises and atmospheres typical to the location, that will enrich the future film editing. It is from these expectations and obstination that an outside ear could find strange or funny, that Félix Blume got the idea to create these short films.”
Étienne Noiseau – Syntone.fr
Félix Blume is born in the South of France in 1984. He studied Sound in Toulouse and in the famous cinema school INSAS in Brussels. He has mainly worked as a sound engineer for independent documentaries and with some video-artists. He spends his time between Europe and Mexico and travels around the world for his shootings. He records sounds during his trips and shares them on the internet, mostly on Freesound and Soundcloud.
He also works on personnal ‘sound creations’, turning his sounds into “sonic postcards” & soundscapes broadcasted by ARTE Radio (Fr), Phaune Radio (Fr), Radio Grenouille (Fr), Kunst Radio (Au).