Research Networking Day

Mapping Sound Cultures

Photo by Ulijona_Odisaria.

Open to the general public, the Research Networking Day is a yearly CTM festival initiative that provides a platform to exchange ideas and experiences for students and researchers from different European graduate and postgraduate programmes traversing the fields of audio, arts, media, design and related theoretical disciplines. Students and researchers present projects and findings connected to the CTM 2016 festival theme in 10-minute sessions that, for this edition, take on a special sound art focus through a collaboration with the Sound of Culture, Culture of Sound (SoCCoS) network. All presentations take place in English.

SoCCoS is a residency and research network engaging with exploratory music, sound art and culture. It provides residency opportunities via exchange of artists, cultural workers, theorists and students. The project focuses on language, differences in urban and rural environment and work with local communities. It practices a structuralist approach in relation to sound art residencies, connecting different sound art practices, geo-social contexts and art production typologies. It has a strong focus on research, elaborating on geography, culture, sound, language and site-specificity.

In addition to supporting two commissioned works within the CTM 2016 Radio Lab, SoCCoS hosts ten European sound art students and five Berlin-based students at a micro residency during CTM 2016. Including sessions with various Berlin Universities, curators and activists, the micro residency programme, developed in collaboration with Humboldt University’s Chair of Transcultural Musicology, culminates in this Research Networking Day. A selection of micro residency students will be presenting their respective artistic approaches, research, experiences and practice within the scope of CTM 2016’s New Geographies theme.

Presentation Schedule

12:00 Welcome and Introduction

Dahlia Borsche, Musicology Department — Humboldt University Berlin

12:05 Opening Keynote

Julia Eckhardt [BE] — Q02

Culture sounds, like it smells, looks and reasons. It can sound through its music, its language, or its everyday soundscape. Under this premise the residency network SoCCoS (Sound of Culture Culture of Sound) has been set up, engaging with exploratory music, sound art and culture. It provides residency opportunities via exchange of artists, cultural workers and theorists. Through the residencies SoCCoS offers time and space away from known environment and everyday routines, to discover new sites, different cultures of sound art and source materials, to develop special skills and expand artistic networks. The project focuses on language, differences in urban and rural environment, and work with local communities.
SoCCoS is shared by organisations Hai Art (FI), Binaural/Nodar(PT), DISK Berlin (DE), A-I-R Laboratory (PL) and Q-O2 (BE).

Julia Eckhardt is a viola player and curator on the intersection between experimental composed and improvised music. She guides the Q-O2 workspace, a laboratory for music and sound art in Brussels, where she has instigated several thematic collaborative projects and festivals (//2009//, DoUndo/recycling G, Field Fest, Tuned City Brussels, the other the self, a.o.). As a violist she has worked with artists such as Eliane Radigue, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Stevie Wishart, Anne Wellmer, Christian Wolff, Andrea Neumann, Burkhard Beins, Rhodri Davies, Angharad Davies, Taku Sugimoto, Robin Hayward, and the Wandelweiser-composers. She has been teaching and lecturing at Lemmens Institut (Leuven), Transmedia (Sint-Lukas Brussels) and La Cambre (Brussels).
She grew up in Berlin and lives and works in Brussels.

12:30 Greatest Certain(ty)?

Anabela Veloso [PT], alumnus Faculty of Fine Arts — University of Porto

This presentation addresses the hybrid of certainty and doubt. I start with a word that is given as invariably true and try to transform it into another one, in a way that the second term can be considered (in opposition) invariably true as well. I try to set up travel between fields and structural geographies: physical spaces, spaces that allow for oscillation, spaces where the division line is visible. What is this (new) space? Is it a revisited old one? I will use sound and video to investigate what it is and what kind of relationship we have to it, and to ask the question: how sure can we be?

In the presentation, image will highlight the potential of sound, and sound will highlight the potential of image. Only the mixture of both can bring meaning and logic. Concrete, spacial sound will be transformed into an abstract form. This modified sound will create a narrative completed with image so that the spectator finds himself in a created space. This space will present doubts rather than certainties—it will raise questions about what is real and what’s not, what is known or unknown, safe or distant.

12:45 DIY Again, or Still DIY? Mapping Cassette Production in Berlin's Music Scene

Benjamin Düster [DE], Humboldt University Berlin

Music has never been more readily available than it is now, in the age of the internet. At the same time, though, it seems that the omnipresent digital availability of music also implies a growing consciousness about the different forms of media it is instantiated in. The same track sounds different in the MP3 format than it does pressed on vinyl or recorded on tape. This awareness about the physical carrier media of sound generates recurring perspectives on the consumption of music. Where there are claims about a current revival of vinyl and tape consumption in the popular music mainstream, it becomes apparent that, across a wide range of musical sub-genres and cultures, these forms of media were never abandoned in the first place. This presentation examines the role of cassette production and usage within Berlin’s contemporary music scene. The project's aim is to portray and map the different approaches, intentions and musical styles that are bundled together within the mostly self-organized and DIY-oriented audiotape production. The leading question is whether there is currently a unified  phenomenon that is worth calling a ‘cassette scene’ or ‘-culture’, or if the active tape labels and performers in Berlin are fragmented and isolated from one another.  

13:00 BREAK

13:15 Sensonarium 1.0: Becoming Elements by Feeling Sound (a Living Instrument Study 2015/2016)

Dejana Sekulic [RS/BE], collaborator Q-02 & Institut Supérieur Industriel de Bruxelles

What if you were a particle of a sound? If you could perceive and feel sound from inside of it?

The interactive sound installation Sensonarium is imagined as a representation of the membrane that holds a sound. Being inside of this membrane and feeling the sound, one becomes a kind of internal particle. Through analyzing microscopic slides, I exhibit the visual structures of different elements (water, wood, pollen, earth, metal, tissue...). I also examine different sounds and frequencies with cymatics, and then pair up each element with combinations of sounds. As a result, visual images have their equivalent signature sounds, their air vibrations, their voices. The intended effect is for the spectator, while interacting with the installation, to feel these vibrations and frequencies being and becoming a part of their insides, becoming the atom. Elements’ interiors will thus feel closer to the spectator and become one with the nature of being.

Through the presentation of this work (in progress), the idea is to join the overall discussion about interdisciplinary, expanding borders for musicians and their performance roles with a discussion about about shifting fields of action and possibilities. I also want to explore the idea that artistic actions and thinking can facilitate changes in perception, progress towards equality in society, and lead to the elimination of imposed geographical borders. Although terrain, in all possible interpretations of the word, may differ, it belongs to us all and it should be accessible, explored and inhabited without restraints—both temporarily and permanently.

13:30 Music of Chaos and Territory: Towards a "Rewilding" of the Ear

André Pinto [PT], graduate Musical Arts Programme — New University of Lisbon

The production of sound is a means by which we connect communally as a species, but have we not become too self-centred, too autistic in relation to our surroundings? I feel that in present times, more than ever, we lack access to the conscious silence necessary for listening to the planet we inhabit. How can listening change our relationship to the environment and reconnect us with it at a deeper level?

In my work I attempt to stress the idea of an empirical/experiential reconnection to the natural, non-human world through the practice of deep listening. I believe that the aesthetic experience is central to a more ecological positioning of the human being on earth, and that aesthetic experience should involve a ‘rewilding of the ear'. I believe we need to rethink what it means to listen.

13:45 In(Between) Frets

Primoz Sukic [SI/BE], Royal Conservatory of Ghent

In (between) frets is a project that deals with our perception and understanding of listening. I will discuss different approaches to guitar playing (and, by extension, to sound) that are represented in the contemporary solo guitar repertoire. The presentation will discuss works by Fausto Romitelli, Peter Ablinger, Luciano Berio, Vinko Globokar, Uroš Rojko, and Juan Camilo Vasquez. Each work represents a different challenge to or extension of the tasks that a musician is used to carrying out, forcing him to discover new territories and approaches to performance. Each piece, in its treatment of sound, maps a distinct journey and invites a performance that blurs the line between concert recital and sound installation.

14:00 BREAK

14:15 Located Sounds

Olli Aarni [FI], Labels: Vuosi, Preservation, Full of Nothing

Gathering local sounds is a way of interacting with one's surroundings. Extracting sounds from geographical locations is not only a way of creating, but also a way of altering one's perception of a location. The process of collecting sounds and other ingredients for art-making is also a process of highlighting certain aspects of a cultural context. Social surroundings can reach way beyond the geographical ones. We live in imagined communities as well as non-imagined ones—why not imagined locations?

Languages are often tied to geographical areas. Because language is a medium of thinking, could it also be that the language(s) of the artist affects the art they make, even though language itself might be invisible in the end product? In art, why is the English language most often the main language of the meta-text such as monikers and liner notes?

Can the borders of cultures be crossed without hesitation? With sounds, where does one draw the line in terms of cultural appropriation? The concept of originality could be approached from a different point of view: could a piece of art have been made by anyone in the world but not anywhere in the world?   

14:30 From an Everyday Object to a Musical Entity

Caroline Profanter [AT/BE], Conservatoire Royal de Mons

In referring to acousmatic compositional tools, I will describe a process that takes raw sounds and converts them into a composed piece of music. The "séquence jeu" (play sequence) is the primordial practice of an acousmatic composer. This technique involves exploring all of the musical qualities of a sounding object or a sound environment and recording that object or environment. The microphone plays an important role in determining both the timbre and the spatial aspects of a sound recording. Further steps in the compositional process are attentive listening to the recording, analysis, categorization, and editing. The "orchestration" begins using the resulting group of sounds and relating them to the same initial idea or concept. The final process of transformation and mixing leads to a new level of perception in which the single sound objects are no longer linked to their origins. This basic compositional practice is connected to a huge range of constantly-evolving technical possibilities.

14:45 Sounds Hyperreal: Construction Kits and New Geographies

Philipp Koller [DE], Humboldt University Berlin

The introduction of microprocessor technology to musical instruments, the advent of DAWs, and the ever-growing archive of sound libraries all triggered significant changes in music production, and digitalisation made it clearer than ever that music is bound to the technologies of its making. Through the use of loop libraries and construction kits, specific aesthetics are not only created but also reproduced, whereby signification processes meet operational principles. Highly mobile bits of sound are thus travelling around the world to shape musical realities and connected economies. By turning to Jean Baudrillards ideas of simulation, hyperreality, and changing modes of production in late capitalism, is it possible to link these developments in music production to their surrounding societies and cultures?

15:00 BREAK

15:15 Berry Picking as a Method

Sini Silveri [FI], alumnus University of Eastern Finland

The presentation "Berry Picking as a Method" is an introduction to the collector's world. It will explore how to pick berries from common land using coincidences in the process of selection. It will also investigate how to collect sounds from the environment and words from nearby. It will act as a portrait of a collector trying to organize chaos—method is also limitation. A collector’s job is also to explore the moment at which berries turn out to comprise a layer of music or poetry.

15:30 New Primitive Explorations

Carlos Ortíz [MX/DE], Soundstudies Department — Berlin University of the Arts (UdK)

The composer Edgar Varèse was deeply influenced by Amerindian myths and cultures. “Ecuatorial”, his piece for bass, chorus, brass, two ondes martenots, and percussion, had a special relationship to the translations of Mayan myths by the Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias. Varèse saw musical futures and an ‘archaic’ reversion to primordial forces as complementary opposites. In “Ecuatorial” in particular, Varèse encountered a language and symbolic world sufficiently alien to permit a musical setting oriented around the invocational, magical, and incantatory rather than the logical and descriptive.

Through the study and personal interpretation of an alien and ‘primitive’ world, Varèse was able to create an innovative and fresh musical language in this work. He also used instruments that until then had been foreign to orchestral repertoire. His particular timbral exploration, special instrumental use of the voice and dynamics, and application of heterophony all helped to achieve the particular ‘archaic’ vision that he sought with “Ecuatorial”. In my opinion, both Varése’s long-term desire to refocus attention on the source of music itself (namely sound) and his self-developed concept of “organized sound” are strong evidences of a regression to the ‘primitive’. This ‘primitivism’, once achieved, also turned out to be the seed of a renewed musical future.

The presentation “New Primitive Explorations” is divided into two parts. The first stage of the project consists of an artistic investigation and recollection of possible compositional material found in ethnological sources. The second stage is centered on transforming the material of the investigation into a final musical piece (or final musical pieces) and the presentation of the results of this artistic investigation, exploration, and creation in a final exposition.

15:45 EOSIN: No Borders for Noise

Diana Combo [PT], graduate Music Arts programme — New University Lisbon

I interpreted John Cage’s statement that everyone is or can be a musician as a proposal to enter into an uncharted creative space. Composing doesn’t necessitate musical training or guidelines. Instead, it’s what  the dictionary tell us it is: "making or forming by combining things, parts, or elements."

For my solo project, "Eosin", I use a specific collection of vinyl records to make real time compositions out of selected fragments, effects, and mixing techniques. This work, based on the appropriation of other people's sounds and music, started as something that could be termed plunderphonics, since the results pointed directly to the recognizable original sources that were being combined. This approach then gave way to a more elaborate compositional process. This process relies on perceptual phenomena that allow us to understand what is previously disconnected as elements that inherently belong together. My (if i may call them mine at all!) compositions or re-compositions, rather than stemming from strictly defined concepts or methodologies, rather are the result of a more intuitive way of building a sequence of sounds.

16:00 The Musical Manifestation of Transportation and Communication Technology Advancement

Niklas Meier [DE], Soundstudies Department — Berlin University of the Arts (UdK)

My presentation explores the relationship between musical structure or composition techniques and progress in the development of transportation and communication technologies. It will focus on the period between 1720 and 1780. From a social-historical perspective, this period is characterised by a transition from feudal absolutism to bourgeoisie and the dawn of modern economic age. From a music-historical perspective, it is characterised by the transition from an aristocratically-determined musical culture to a culture centered on the bourgeois. During this period, significant innovations in transportation and communication technologies (e. g. the development of road and canal networks and optical telegraph networks) resulted in new modes of spatial experience: they provided the possibility to overcome spatial distances in shorter time intervals, leading to a “shrinkage” or “compression” of space. The number of locations one could pass through in a certain amount of time increased.

Since the musical course, represented on the score’s horizontal axis, is traditionally associated with a change of scenery, this altered mode of spatial perception is reflected in the music of this time. Whereas Baroque music had been dominated by the static “Einheitsaffekt”, the music of the period between 1720 and 1780 revealed a new mobility in its faster succession of heterogeneous structures (e. g. contrasting musical themes, subtle dynamic shading, rhythmical contrasts, shadings in timbre via instrumentation changes).

Lastly, my presentation provides an outlook on the reflection of spatial experience in contemporary music shaped by current communication technologies.

16:15 BREAK

16:30 Closing Keynote

Eric Mattson [QC/CA] and Carsten Stabenow [DE] — freelance curators

This presentation will open with a short presentation of "La Marche (est haute)" (The walk/the step (is high)), a series of outdoor performances produced last Spring by québecois sound and media curator Eric Mattson. A conversation with Berlin-based curator Carsten Stabenow will follow, exploring questions that such works inherently bring up. The presentation thus aims to open up the discussion to all present, to explore the why and the how of creation and diffusion of art.

Montréal-based Eric Mattson is an independent curator of sound art, new media and Outsider arts and has worked for the past twenty-five years in these fields. He has made curatorial contributions to festivals in Montreal including ISEA 1995, FCMM, MUTEK and to international festivals such as IDEAL (France), Garage (Germany), and CTM (Germany). Founder of the ORAL record label, he is also an active member of Le Bloc ORAL, a collective committed to the production and diffusion of sound and interdisciplinary arts.

Carsten stabenow works as free curator, producer, communication designer and artist on the intersection of artistic production and mediation. He studied communications and postgraduate interdisciplinary studies in Berlin and is initiator of diverse festivals, formats and initiatives within the context of new media, art + science and sound art. Stabenow is founder of the German media art festival garage, initiator and artistic director of tuned city, and co-founder of the Berlin art and media production platform dock e.V. He has realised several installations and performed worldwide both solo and as a member of the staalplaat soundsystem (2001-2010).

16:55 Thank You and Discussion

Led by Dahlia Borsche, Musicology Department — Humboldt University Berlin

SoCCoS is funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


Date: 6.2.2016

Venue: Kunstquartier Bethanien (Project Room)

Time: 12 – 18:00