“Sound in the Museum” - industrial design, modern art and creative experiments

Published on February 18, 2018

“Sound in the Museum” - industrial design, modern art and creative experiments

    Sounds are recognized by Art in special spaces - conservatories, opera houses, large concert halls. Museum space for a long time remained the territory of visual forms, where audio performed only a functional task - it informed, accompanied, but was not an independent and independent object of art.

    But lately a lot has changed. Art began to become multimodal and multimedia. The traditionalism of the museum space gave way to abstract and modern art, which is interesting to experience the perception of a person and explore various forms of self-expression. One of such forms was sound art, a type of art where sound became the main material and form.

    In this article, we talk about unusual objects of art, where sound plays a major role, and how sound was rethought in the conditions of museum spaces. Photo by Laura CC

    Bashé Brothers sound sculptures

    Creating art with the help of sounds outside classical music is far from an invention of recent years. The first sound sculptures were created in the middle of the twentieth century by the brothers Bernard and François Bachet, an engineer and a sculptor, respectively.

    Their works were very material and mechanistic.

    Playing on one of the tools of the brothers Bashe - "La Tôle à Voix"

    In addition, they experimented with interactivity - objects of art with which visitors can interact. Thus, one of their inventions was a glass organ consisting of 54 glass tubes. Everyone could play on it (regardless of musical skills).

    Playing on the organ (Cristal Baschet) The

    work of the Bashé brothers largely predetermined further experiments in this direction - a deep study of the nature of sound, a close connection between science and creativity, a study of social contexts and practices of interaction with the museum space and objects of art.

    Currently, the University of Barcelona has the Basche Sound Sculpture Workshop - it works with museums, concert halls, universities and urban spaces around the world. The workshop specialists recreate Bashé instruments, catalog them and promote them among artists and musicians.

    Music written and played on the instruments of the brothers Bash.

    The ideas of the brothers Bash were picked up by other sound artists. For example, the Swiss sculptor Jean Tengley also experimented with sound in his works - collected complex designs from cans and wheels, which “played” under the influence of water flow; and mechanisms in which hundreds of gears randomly spin, emitting different sounds.

    Kinetic Sculpture Tengli


    Last year, an exhibition of sound sculptures by Taras Mashtalir and Pavel Pankratov was held in St. Petersburg as part of the SONICOLOGY project.

    One of the objects of the exhibition was Stella, a sound sculpture with which visitors could interact in different ways. In fact, Stella is a combination of LEDs and sound systems with a multitude of sensitive sensors that read the activity of people around. Stella reacts to human behavior with a unique set of sounds and colors.

    As conceived by the creators, Stella can perform educational and therapeutic functions, as well as change the way a person interacts with a space — museum or city, if there are sculptures that look like it. This is literally “harmony measured by algebra”.

    This is how the artist and sound designer Taras Mashtalir explains the idea and principle of the sculpture: “The real-time sensor system analyzes the space within the artifact. This data is organized according to the Pythagorean principles and generates a harmonic palette in the form of a sequence of sound tone and its color equivalent on the scale of an electromagnetic wave, stimulating the synesthetic sensations. ”

    This is not only an object of unusual art, but also (quite possibly in the future) - an element of urban space. Ordinary sculptures are silent, but urban space is constantly “cluttered up” with noise. Interactive sound sculptures are one of the tools for restoring the audio climate and sound aesthetics of modern cities.

    Sensors for such a sound sculpture are video cameras that use machine vision algorithms. In theory, any personal device with a video camera and the necessary (albeit not trivial) software in the future could become “Stella”.

    Zimun's sound architecture

    Zimoun Swiss ( Zimoun ) is another well-known sound art director who creates sound installations from industrial materials. Everything deals with it - from cardboard boxes, bags and balls to pieces of wire, speakers and even garbage.

    Some works of Zimun are monumental - they are not in space, but become space themselves. In creating sound sculptures Zimun took the next step - to the sound architecture.

    An example of Zimun’s work, perfectly demonstrating his vision and the literalness of his art - “318 DC engines, cork balls, cardboard boxes 100x100x100 cm”. This is a long corridor of boxes, brightly lit from the inside, where hundreds of balls beat against the walls - the viewer walks along the corridor and gets into a hypnotic thud.

    Another work from a similar series is “200 DC motors and 2000 cartons 70x70 cm.”

    But Zimun has more “local” works, although there are few of them. For example, concentrating on micro-life and a very literal installation “25 grinders, a piece of wood, a microphone and an amplifier” - the larvae of grinder beetles are placed in a piece of wood - and the sounds they produce are amplified and output to the speakers.

    “25 grinders, a piece of wood, a microphone and an amplifier”

    Sound is not visual or material art, but this does not mean that there is no place for it in museum spaces. Artists, sculptors, scientists and creators in the broad sense of the word constantly experiment with form and content, create sound sculptures and complex unique designs, where sound becomes the subject of art.

    Sometimes in museums there are not only objects born for creation, but also things created for everyday use, for example, the best designs of industrial design - for example, several products of the Bang & Olufsen company producing audio equipment became part of the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art in New York .

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