In the Garden of Sonic Delights
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15 Sonic Delights Videos on YouTube
We invite you to watch 15 videos by Caryn Waechter about In the Garden of Sonic Delights. Each features participating artists at Caramoor and our partner sites discussing their creative process, technical aspects of project development, and their contribution to the exhibit.
The exhibit is open through November 2, 2014; we encourage you to experience it in person. For more information, go to www.caramoor.org/events/garden-sonic-delights/.
Q&A with Stephan Moore, Curator and Artistic Director
Q: In the Garden of Sonic Delights is bringing together 16 of today’s most innovative sound artists to create 15 site-specific artworks at six major Hudson Valley cultural organizations. How will this exhibition forward the conversation about sound art?
SM: My aim is that we contribute to the conversation by showing what is possible through innovation and risk-taking in the way sound art is curated. First and foremost, all of the works in this exhibition are commissions — the exhibition will be 100% new work. By commissioning these works, we have been able to ask our artists for site-specific pieces. The ability to work with a specific site is a big deal for sound artists, because working in sound means being in constant collaboration with the piece’s environment. Sound is just vibrating air. The shape and character of the surfaces that border that air determine how sound will travel, whether it will echo or reverberate, and how clearly it will be heard. When the site is known, it can be explored, experimented with, and plumbed for its function and history. When sound-based artwork has a home, the artists are allowed to fully unfold their imagination and practice into it. I am very proud to play a role in an exhibition that values this relationship so highly.
Finally, all of these pieces (except one) are outdoor pieces, which means they are subject to the uncertainties of weather and the natural environment — requiring careful planning and maintenance. The artworks will experience, and be experienced within, the shifts from day to night to day. And because the exhibition is open for five months, the artworks will also exist through the gradual progressive shift in environment, from spring to summer to autumn. Leaves that are budding during the set-up of these pieces will have fallen by the time the exhibition ends. I am excited as an audience member to be able to return to these pieces at different times of day and across the months, to see what these new contexts have to offer.
Q: Knowing this project has been in-development for more than five years, what was the process for selecting specific artists and how did those artists choose their locations?
SM: Some of the artists I’d had the pleasure of working with before, while some I knew only through their work. Some were chosen because, for me, they had a resonance with a particular site, while others were chosen because they had an interesting attitude or approach to natural sound and settings. I wanted to balance established artists with emerging artists, and I didn’t want any two artists to have an approach to making work that was overly similar.
Q: How does this exhibition compare with other recent major sound art exhibitions?
SM: Looking just at the greater New York City area in the past year, there have been a number of exciting sound-oriented exhibitions and a lot of great work shown. The arts community in this region is truly engaging itself in the larger global dialogue about what sound art is and how we think about it, and with great results.
To my knowledge, Sonic Delights is the only sound art exhibition of this scale that is composed of all newly commissioned work, and focuses on outdoor sound artworks, open to the outside air. I feel like we are breaking new ground here, and I hope that these factors, along with the artwork itself, will make a substantial contribution to that larger dialogue about sound art.
Q: Is sound art a recent artistic movement or development? If not, why does it feel that today’s technology is making it possible?
SM: Sound art, depending on how you look at it, is around a century old at this point, though it wasn’t being called sound art back then. Today’s wave of sound art finds its origins in the work of a handful of pioneering artists, such as Max Neuhaus, Phill Niblock, Annea Lockwood and Alvin Lucier, who began their explorations of the form in the 1960s. The factors that have led us to today’s explosion of sound art are many, and they are mostly quite familiar: a culture that continually immerses us in sound and media, audio recording and playback technology that is increasingly lower cost for higher quality, the portability and disposability of sonic experiences through the internet and our “gadget culture,” the continual rise and ubiquity of urban and industrial noise, a growing awareness that silence has become a commodity, the recent jump in interest and research into all forms of human perception and cognition — especially auditory systems, not to mention sound-focused artist-led movements such as Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening and R. Murray Schafer’s Acoustic Ecology.
Wherever one looks today, sound is playing a central role in our culture. We can either drown in it, or, in a turnabout borrowed from John Cage, we can choose to think of the sounds around us as the music of our lives. More and more people are making that intuitive leap. When we think about, say, the ubiquitous drone of air conditioners in summer as an aesthetic experience, suddenly there’s a lot to think about, and a lot to make art about!
SM: I have enjoyed watching audiences show up early for concerts, unpacking their picnic baskets on the lawn and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Sonic Delights will imbue those surroundings with new mysteries and discoveries — with sonic delights, in fact! — and make the Caramoor experience even more singular and fantastic. We already know that Caramoor audiences are astute and intelligent listeners. This exhibition is an invitation to apply that listening in new places and in new situations. With In the Garden of Sonic Delights, more than ever, Caramoor becomes a thoroughgoing playground for the ears.
In the Garden of Sonic Delights is open from June 7 – November 2, 2014. This Sunday, July 20, we will present the Sonic Delights Festival, a day of activities including a lecture, panel discussion, and concert. Please visit Caramoor.org for more information.
In the Garden of Sonic Delights Opens on June 7
Join us on Saturday, June 7 at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts for the opening day of In the Garden of Sonic Delights. The day will feature guided tours, performances and conversations with the artists. For directions and to purchase tickets, please visit caramoor.org.
Opening Performance: Eli Keszler and Ensemble
Sound artist Eli Keszler, who is also an accomplished composer and percussionist, has created a new musical piece to be performed within his installation, Catenary, on the Center Walk at Caramoor. Joining Keszler in performing the work, also titled Catenary, will be bass clarinetist Lea Bertucci, cellist Leila Bordreuil, and electric guitarist Reuben Son. The ensemble with collaborate musically with Keszler’s artwork on many levels, accompanying and responding to its sound while also interpreting the symbols and patterns etched into its surface as a musical score.
Panel Discussion with Sonic Delights Artists
At Caramoor’s Tapestry Hedge, Sonic Delights artists Trimpin, Annea Lockwood, Ed Osborn and Suzanne Thorpe will discuss their artworks, and the emerging field and practice of sound art, with panel moderator and esteemed curator Barbara London. In late 2013, London capped a four-decade career at the Museum of Modern Art with the presentation of a major sound art exhibition, Soundings: A Contemporary Score. The audience will have ample opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the panelists.
Acclaimed sound artist Francisco López will present a sound performance that goes beyond a “normal” music concert. His performance will be an intense and rich sonic immersive experience in the dark, with a surround sound system and blindfolds provided for the audience, which is placed in concentric circles facing the outside array of speakers.
The concert will open with a performance from the duo Evidence, a musical collaboration between sound artists Stephan Moore and Scott Smallwood. Performing together since 2001, they have developed a distinctive language of deeply layered sound, blending the organic and electronic using field recordings of natural, urban, and industrial sources as their primary material and inspiration.
A guided silent walk, led by Sonic Delights artist Bruce Odland, will explore the changed Caramoor soundscape at this transitional time. The soundwalk will be a compositional act of movement as music, bringing the day’s events to a close.
Caramoor is proud to present In the Garden of Sonic Delights, an innovative installation of sound sculpture opening in June 2014. This five-month long, regional exhibition will be the first of its kind to be presented in the United States. It will consist of 20 commissioned, site-specific sound art installations located on both Caramoor’s campus in Katonah, NY as well as at five satellite locations, including Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA) in Peekskill, Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, and the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase.
The exhibition will be accompanied by performances, discussions, sound walks, an on-line resource guide, a catalog, and video documentation. It will also be incorporated into one of Caramoor’s arts-in-education programs for local schoolchildren. We anticipate reaching hundreds of thousands of people through our collaborative, multi-channel marketing campaign and expect more than 100,000 people from throughout the tri-state region will see the exhibition.
It is our intention that this project will have broad appeal, reaching well beyond the traditional audiences who visit Caramoor and its partnering organizations. By reimagining the way in which cultural organizations can be presented to the public, our project objectives are to:
- Present an innovative new art form to current visitors;
- Reach broader, larger, and more diverse audiences;
- Promote Caramoor and its partnering organizations as vital resources in their communities;
- Invigorate relationships between Caramoor and its partnering organizations as well as complementary service sector businesses; and
- Promote the region as a rich cultural tourism destination.
Stephan Moore, the consulting Curator & Artistic Director, is the driving force in shaping and managing the project and is working closely with Caramoor’s staff on it. Mr. Moore, a composer, audio artist, and the former Sound Engineer and Music Coordinator for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, has utilized his considerable understanding of the sound art genre to develop and implement the project. We anticipate he will continue to play a critical role as the project moves forward, acting as a liaison between artistic and technical staff, participating artists, and partnering organizations.
Participating artists for Caramoor location include:
- Laurie Anderson
- Betsey Biggs
- Eli Keszler
- Annea Lockwood
- Francisco López
- Stephan Moore*
- Scott Smallwood
- Suzanne Thorpe
- Stephan Vitiello
*Project curator and artistic director
Participating artists for satellite locations include:
- Ranjit Bhatnagar (Neuberger Museum of Art)
- Aaron Taylor Kuffner (HVCCA)
- John Morton (Jacob Burns Film Center)
- Bruce Odland (Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture)
- Ed Osborn (Lyndhurst)
Collecting Basin (by Eli Keszler) was installed in Shreveport, Louisiana at the Mcneil Street Pumping Station in October of 2011. Extended piano wire running off the large water tower ranging in length from 20 to 200 feet are struck by mirco-controlled motor beaters in continual pattern.
Cue: 0:00 to 02:27
Balancing Act (by Suzanne Thorpe and Philip White) was exhibited on the historic Lightship Frying Pan, Pier 66 Maritime, NY, NY (2009). The movement of the vessel determined musical choices via a sensor and Max/MSP. Sound perceptions shifted with an individual’s position in the ship. The piece employed the materiality of the ship, as it was composed of pitches from a scale designed to produce harmonic interactions with metallic surfaces. The installation of the speaker system was designed to visually mimic the portholes of the ship.
Cue: 0:00 to 3:39
A Bell For Every Minute (by Stephen Vitiello) was installed in 2010 in the High Line’s 14th Street Passage. It is comprised of recordings of bells from throughout the city, which range from the NYSE bell to bike bells. Each minute, a different bell tolls from the tunnel’s surrounding speakers, offering visitors both a unique auditory experience and an acoustic tour of New York City. A Bell for Every Minute was presented in partnership by Creative Time, Friends of the High Line, and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Cue: 0:00 to 2:33
Start and End Dates
06/07/2014 — 10/26/2014
Katonah, New York