Curated by Michael Yuen
Australia has a vibrant sound and experimental art community. By distance and cultural heritage Australia is a vast and isolated nation. With the ready integration of the Internet into our lives and artistic practices, Australian artists have become connected with their cultural past while reserving the right to observe from a distance. It has fallen to the current generation of artists to embrace our tyranny of distance and celebrate the freedom that is afforded by our new world conditions. There are many signs that Australia has evolved from an infant nation towards a vibrant new world community – the celebration of artistic freedom from the old; forced resourcefulness and innovation by the lack of traditional arts infrastructure; rapid acceptances of new technologies and techniques; the embracing of a national identity beyond iconicism; and the use of the old world as a historical reference rather than a guide to the future. The works assembled here are a reflection of sound art from around Australia celebrating these signs.
An Approximation of a Tree (2003, 4m 03s)
URL: http://stomczak.e-access.com.au/rope/pdf/an_approximation_of_a_tree.pdf Explores complex relationships of simple tones, by systematically building up texture over time. It was created using 72 oscillators. Fractal Bones (2005, 1m 58s)
Constructed from a simple image with repeating fractal properties, which is then transferred into music using a straight- forward algorithm. It was created using computer and an 8- bit Nintendo Entertainment System
canal (2003-4, 7m 26s)
canal by Steve Adam and Thomas Reiner, integrates diverse sound materials both collected and generated individually by the two collaborators. The submission and integration of these materials took the form of a musical ping-pong game in which one collaborator would receive the latest version of the track from the other, take it away for a couple of weeks, and return it with new materials added and changes made. The materials include a processed drum pattern created with a drum ensemble from the music software Reaktor, additional drum patterns made up from a range of drum samples, simple chord progressions, and samples taken from site recordings in 2003 in Venice and Florence. The title canal is a reference to both Venice and the virtual path created by the back-and-forth motion of ideas between two collaborators.
ephemeral densities (2004, 7m11sec)
ephemeral densities, by Thomas Reiner, explores changes of texture and sound colour. Four sound objects provide the source material for the work: (1) a synthesized sound that resembles the chirping call of the male cricket, (2) a fast changing, busy sound that appeared suddenly and surprisingly as a sonic artefact while undertaking site recordings with a minidisk recorder in Victoria’s Grampians, (3) a very low bass sound, and (4) a metallic sounding drum loop. The main effect used in the work is a grain delay that divides the original sound object into tiny particles, which are then delayed individually, allowing for extreme modifications of the original sound. The editing and sound processing of the piece was done with Ableton Live a computer program that combines elements of improvisation, composition, and performance.
Tetovo: 2001 (2005, 2m23sec)
Tetovo: 2001 is the composer’s reflections on the events that occurred in the Republic of Macedonia city in 2001. Terrorists attacked the city of Tetovo resulting in many civilian lives being lost and resulting in the mobilisation of the Macedonian Army for the first time since the end of the Second World War. The unfortunate response from the majority of western powers actually encouraged the terrorists and supported their unjustifiable claims over sovereign Macedonian land. Political pressure from the USA has seen the recent ‘administrative’ division of Macedonia. Supporting actions of terrorism and terrorists is exposing the hypocrisy of so called ‘western democracy’ and the ‘war on terror’ This event is an example of the ongoing struggle for basic human rights for the Macedonians, namely the right to self-identity. Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, the cultural identity of the Macedonian’s is being consistently denied and challenged. Attacks on national history, religion, and even ethnicity from all neighboring countries, has seen devastating outcomes on the developing country. The composition is largely constructed from vocal manipulations of the ‘Queen of Macedonian Song’ Vaska Ilieva’s [1921-2001] interpretation of the traditional song ogreala mesechina (shining moon). The song was recorded by the composer in 1992. The song expresses the size of ethnographic Macedonia through a 19th century folk perspective. Finally, Tetovo: 2001 is viewed as a neo-traditional composition, continuing the tradition of Macedonian folklore. Even after a century of violence against the Macedonians, the memory of the past continues, presenting the truth of the Macedonian identity through song and music.
Ghost Towns (2004, 18m20sec)
Recorded in the later half of 2003, this composition is composed largely of field recordings, the only processing being EQ and pitch shifting. The work is an abstracted impressionist sound portrait, sketching out the isolated soundscapes that exist in the forgotten realms of the Australia outback. It highlights the rich and at times unexpectedly synthetic sound world existing in these vast spaces. Cicadas are matched against 44-gallon drums popping in the morning sun and wire fences resonating to the backdrop of sites such as a haunted hotel in far northern Australia.
Familiar Circuits (2004, 13m22sec)
Familiar Circuits is an excerpt from a sound installation of the same name, exploring the familiar and unique components of the sound environment in Canberra, Australia. Ongoing processing of the audio material creates a surreal soundscape, where familiar elements are emphasised and repeated, becoming a new sonic atmosphere of their own. Segments of audio are returned to again and again, referencing the circular nature of this particular city’s town plan.
CITY2CITY (2004, 10m0sec)
CITY2CITY explores the notion of entropy and changing sound worlds within a city environment. Sounds recorded in the Australian cities of Canberra and Sydney transmute into new forms, gradually oscillating between the recognisable and the unfamiliar. The experience is that of a city soundscape’s decay and re-emergence; each evolution bringing a new imaginary city to life.
Stammer (2004, 5m30sec)
stammer: the shock waves and sound waves erupting from terror-bombings fade quickly, but they strike immeasurable resonances of sorrow through minds and lives. Such cruel detonations also set information machines chattering, hammering out rumour, opinion, fiction, and fear. ‘Stammer’ captures the anxious and relentless voices of mass-media data on the short-wave bands; colloquays of blind, yammering apparatus, triggered by violence.
VNGQRT (2005, 6m40sec)
VNGQRT: not long ago, a small but penetrating Australian voice was silenced. VNG first blipped into the Australian ether in 1964, providing a standard frequency and time signal service for navigators, surveyors, astronomers, ham radio operators and shortwave listeners throughout the South Pacific. The warm, clear voice of VNG announcer Graham Conolly soon became familiar, even in the most remote atoll or lonely farmhouse, and the VNG pip was steady and welcome as a lighthouse. In 1987, VNG was shut down, much of its role taken by Global Positioning Satellites. A consortium of VNG users was formed, money raised, and VNG blipped again from a new location, but costs finally came to outweigh benefits, and VNG’s last pip was heard on 31 December 2002, at 23:43:43 UTC.