The class started with all of us sharing and discussing our previous work. I was excited for the workshop because one of the reasons I took IP was to be exposed to different creative minds who work in different mediums, and that is exactly what I was able to appreciate when we were going around the table seeing everyone’s impressively diverse pieces of art.
We then were introduced to sound art, its pioneers (Pauline Oliveros, Bill Fontana, etc.). Here are some notes I took on my phone:
That last paragraph comes from a video interview of Pauline Oliveros talking about the concept of listening. She argues that ‘ear training’ is nonsensical because you cannot train the ear, however you can train yourself to listen. She added that technology is changing the way we listen – which I deeply agree with – but what was especially was that the interview was decades old. It got me thinking about the technological progression we have seen in the past 10-20 years when it comes to listening technology (most people now have an infinite library of music AND a speaker in their pocket at all times: their smartphone). I then went on a deeper dive of Pauline Oliveros and listened to a podcast she did with Red Bull Music Academy —- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMo5j3ebJw0 —- . Red Bull Music Academy is a fantastic resource that I use because it has interesting musical artists getting interviewed in a very conversational way (the interviewer listens) for a long peroid of time (usually between 30-90 mins) and I will likely continue using it for inspiration and technical help along this semester.
I came into the tutorial with very few ideas but left feeling quite refreshed, which actually led me to come up with a few ideas later that day.
I initially brought up my confidence issues as an artist and as a person and the ways it affects my procrastination. The advice I got was great but I also know this is an issue that comes from within and requires me to do some work on accepting things as they are – and why not integrate the ‘overthinking’ into my work. I can take advantage of it.
We also discussed the mediums I want to work in and it became clear to me that my idea can start from wanting to work within one or multiple mediums. Given the theme of site-specific sound art, music came to my mind immediately as it is a big part of my life both in terms of playing music and listening to it.
The most important thing I got out of the tutorial (I wrote this in all caps on my sheet) is to just get started, to just do something. I have a tendency to think about the final result rather than let the process lead me to the final destination.
An idea that came to me after some brainstorming was to make an instrument. Instead of making a piece of sound, I would find it interesting to make a piece that makes sound. I also have rarely worked in 3D. I delved deeper into this idea and started thinking about making the instrument an extension of myself – not physically, rather putting part of my life experiences and soul into it. I think I will do this regardless of the project I end up doing because I’ve never ‘put myself’ into my art, it has always been about others.
I started doing some research beyond Pauline Oliveros (who also made her own instruments) and found some instrument creators on social media. As inspiring as this is, I realized it would also be worth looking at already existing instruments that have been around for hundreds of years. The instruments we know in the west are such a minuscule part of the instrument world. When discussing my ideas with Abidish in a profound and extremely fulfilling conversation about music and the act of listening, he mentioned an instrument that he would associate with Pakistan, the Rubab.
It is so beautiful. When he mentioned it I decided that I would start making a list of instruments through asking people what instrument they would associate with their home country, and then researching it when I get home. Each instrument has its own sound, which is incredibly interesting given the quantity of instruments out there.
I have not actually made much yet but I decided to write some guitar music to get the creative juices flowing. This isn’t much but it was nice to find some new chords by myself and detaching myself from any theory. It is also recorded on my phone which has a terrible microphone, but that got me thinking about potentially integrating electronics into my work: the varied quality of speakers and microphones could definitely be used to make something.
Another thing I made was something I learned in my Experimental Media Production class, but that is very related to the theme for IP.
These were normal .raw photos, that I imported into Audacity (a sound editing software). This turns the visual images into sound (it sounds like noise music). Then, by editing the sound, in this case adding some reverb, delay, tremolo, or distortion, and exporting the file as a .raw, it generates these incredibly bizarre images. I am going to explore this other idea in more depth and see if I want it to go anywhere.