Sound Art

In From Music to Sound: Being as Time in the Sonic Arts, theorist Christopher Cox proposes that the difference between music and sound is their distinct relationship to time and being. Sound encompasses all, while music is delineated by arrangement and choice. The late 20th century’s displacement of sound over music as an object of cultural fascination signals “an ontological shift from being to becoming and a temporal shift from time to duration.

Helga Jakobson, Entropic Symphony

Video via CBC

To make the plants sing, Jakobson uses alligator clips to connect the plant to an instrument that reads the plants’ bioelectric capacity, which is then connected to her computer.

Jakobson is then able to give each of those spikes in electrical current a musical note.

“It’s a way of letting a plant to express its internal life,” she said.

The computer program allows Jakobson to choose different synthesized instrument sounds for each plant. To create a full symphony sound, Jakobson has enlisted the help of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which sent her copies of the layouts they use to set up their orchestral sections.

via CBC

Ocean Organ in Croatia

 Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, From Here to Ear

A Scandinavian landscape of sand and lyme grass, 88 zebra finches play experimental compositions on 17 electric guitars and basses.

Further Reading via CBC

Aviva Rahmani, The Blued Trees Symphony

BLUED TREES from Aviva Rahmani on Vimeo.

The Blued Trees Symphony is a work of biogeographic sculpture. Our goal is to set a legal precedent for climate change policy by copyrighting an artwork that inhabits areas threatened by natural gas pipelines.

What if we could identify a point of intervention in chaotic and complex systems that might activate the emergence of a healthy ecosystem? What if the answer to biogeographic degradation is in exercising legal innovations? What if that’s a problem for an artist to tackle? Is there a way to perceive earth systems as matrices of synaesthetic composition?

This work was inspired by Alberta sculptor Peter Von Teisenhausen, who copyrighted his entire ranch in 1996 to stop natural gas corporations from taking his land. Copyright law states that a creative expression has protection from destruction. But Teisenhausen’s concept was never tested because the company voluntarily withdrew.

via Earth to Earth

Lou Sheppard, Requiem for Polar Regions

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Requiem for the Polar Regions is an aural record of the shifting masses of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, both the annual melt and reformation of ice, and the long term decline of ice in the Arctic. Using the data provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado this automated program generates a musical score based on the perimeter and concentration of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. The program maps the coordinates of the ice imagery to a musical scale, generating a distinct composition each day. Ice which reaches further from the poles sounds as lower notes, while ice that sits closer to the pole sounds as higher notes. The music produced by the program is discordant and jarring, the imperfection of the translation itself pointing to the disorientation and loss of climate change.

Requiem for the Antarctic Coast


Requiem for the Antarctic Coast from Lou Sheppard on Vimeo.

Paul Walde, Mycolophonia

Photo documentation of Mycolophonia: Experiment 1

Acting upon a John Cage quote from 1988 in which he states “I’m sure that mushrooms in dropping their spores make a sound… It must be rather like gamelan music. It would be lovely to hear.” Mycolophonia is an attempt to record the sound of mushroom spores dropping using a laser vibrometer which is a hypersensitive measuring device that is capable of measuring minute vibrations including inaudible sound waves. The sound installation features the audio recording displayed along with a mushroom spore print that has been enlarged proportionally to approximate the amplification in the audio track. This video is documentation captured during the experiment combined with the resulting audio track.

Music for Natural History

What may initially appear to be a field recording is in fact a live interpretation of the sounds of the life forms represented in the Natural History Wing of the Royal BC Museum by vocalists and music instrumentalists. Through careful cataloging, research and music transcription, the sounds of the entire flora and fauna of the major dioramas are orchestrated into two naturalistic sound performances: Elk Concerto and Shoreline Operetta. This work is a collaboration with Tina Pearson, a Victoria-based composer and sound artist.