SOUNDING BODIES RESEARCH PROJECT
Researching Resonance in and Between Bodies
Sound unites and connects discreet entities into a whole through rhythms, frequencies and time. Sound animates the molecules in space between things, plants, people animals, and landscape, causing discreet entities to vibrate in tandem. In this regard, sound is like a language that is boundless. It collapses distance, while also highlighting delimitations. Both heard and unheard sounds are a vehicle for communication that establishes a web of interdependencies within our environment. Sound defines and expresses who we are and how we are in the world. Using methods, tools and instruments that help students and faculty tune in to the body as apparatus for sound, The Sounding Bodies Research Project aims to the reveal the capacity of sound as an artistic medium.
This project takes as its point of departure the resonating body, an apparatus for perceiving and communicating sound. With our centuries’ old privileging of sight and the visual, we have been left audio-illiterate, ill-equipped to attend to our own capacity to use sound to navigate and interact with the world. To study sound deeply from the perspectives of the artistic disciplines, we must develop competencies specific to it, starting with the body’s ability to sound. The Sounding Body is a term referring to embodiment, and the phenomenon of the sonic as it is produced and perceived within the body.
Using methods, tools and instruments that help students and faculty tune in to the body as apparatus for sound, we aim to the reveal the capacity of sound as an artistic medium. Our goal is to strengthen the field of Sound Studies within the Art Academy, while creating accessible public platforms for artistic research and pedagogical outcomes. Integral to the project is its interdisciplinary scope, a characteristic of Sound Studies, which itself emerged out of and in relation to a number of areas including Art, Music, Improvisation, Acoustic Ecology, Perceptual Studies and even traditional healing practices. Through the Sounding Bodies Project, the Laboratory for Sound at the Art Academy will establish itself as a resource for the Academy and beyond by developing core competencies and a knowledge-base that can support artists who deal with sound in their work. In addition, we aim to present an international dialogue about the body as a sonic apparatus that can be drawn upon within artistic practice and teaching.
Purpose: The project offers faculty and students an opportunity to develop a set of exercises, methodologies, and tools for understanding and expressing sonic perception and its implications within the field of art. We focus on how we can use the body’s own resonant capacity, such as in vocalization, entrainment (resonating sympathetically in relation to an outside entity) and potentially, brainwave frequencies. In this project, tools and artist works may at times be interchangeable as can be seen in some of the seminal work that inspires the project. We will draw inspiration from groundbreaking artists such as composer Pauline Oliveros, whose Deep Listening led to new approaches to apprehending sound and producing works and means of composing for different listening states; Lygia Clark, whose participatory works called Propositions engaged a range of senses to expand on the field of performance, Alvin Lucier’s Music for Solo Performer (1965), in which amplified brainwaves are used to perform on various instruments, Marianne Amacher, who created compositions for the inner ear with her use of Auditory Distortion Products (or Combination Tones), which are sounds generated inside the ear itself; Kaffe Matthews’ sonic bed, an experiential tactile listening instrument which draws attention to the relationship between sound and touch, and many other seminal artists that dealt with perception and production of sound, with an emphasis on the body as site. In each of these artists’ work, new means of attending to sound led to artistic works and revolutionary practices that greatly affected the field of art and experimental music. Within this artistic development project, we want to form a multi-faceted community around the current work in Sound Studies, as well as stimulate the great number of students already hungry to learn about these areas.
Delimitation/Questions: We will use the following questions frame the pedagogical and artistic aims of project:
1) In what ways does the body sound (record, store and transmit sound)?
2)What is the reciprocal capacity of sound; How does it create bonds between discreet entities?
How does the body produce the phenomenon of sound to navigate, connect with and form reciprocal relationships with the world around it?
3) What tools can be used to investigate such embodied sound and its reciprocal relationships?
4)How can existing technologies, tools, materials and methods be used to learn about the above and create work on the subject of embodied sound?
Materials, Tools and Technologies: These will include exercises drawn from the Arts, Acoustic Ecology, Neuroscience, Improvisation and traditional healing practices and serve to support our understanding of perception via the sounding body. Through visiting artists, lectures, workshops and courses students will develop an understanding and learn to use the body alone, as well as in conjunction with technologies, instruments, or other materials to explore and express ideas through sound. For example, we will establish a set of tools for measuring and visualizing heard and unheard vibration within the body, such as voice, brainwaves, and other body vibrations.
Structure/Platform: Various public platforms for sharing knowledge and artistic outcomes are part of the project: the SOBO study group, the SOUND FORMS symposium, web-site, book and exhibition. Collaborating partners in the project will enable us to work across fields and explore new ways of thinking and new applications of technologies.
The project will involve a study group (SOBO Study Group) comprised of people currently engaged with work and research pertaining to the project. The group will meet 3-4 times per month throughout 2018 to share research, collaborate on projects, experiment with tools.
Collaborating partners will offer a chance for exchange of knowledge and resources and for cross disciplinary research.
A public Symposium (3-day event of workshops, talks, performances or walks) organized by SNYK, Rhythmic Music Conservatory and The Art Academy are presenting in 2018 will incorporate a Sounding Bodies thread in which performances and lectures by sound artists and scholars in the area of Sound Studies will be open to the public and will support the focal points of the Sounding Bodies project.
Finally, a website, small run book and exhibition will document all levels of research.