Le terroir sonore du phare de Lachine / the sonic terroir of the Lachine light-house.
This piece is based on soundwalks around the Lachine light-house just to the west of Montreal, 1999-2000. The water and pier surrounding the light-house invite all kinds of crossings: people eating lunch, fishers, sunset-watchers in their cars, ducks, swallows, boats, gulls, sparrows, wind gusting, waves and waves from the end of Lac St. Louis, sometimes frozen into fantastic ice-cubes that tinkle riotously against the rocks, sometimes coated with a thin creaking skin of ice. The light-house stands tall, blinking. Mostly this sentinel is locked but one day it is possible to enter. I remember how strikingly audible the presence of the light-house interior was. Inside, I wanted to name it: “this is the…” but my voice trails off as the rounded metallic interior speaks back to me. “Hello?” Walking by the shore, I discover an old chain and lift it up and down on the rock, imagining the many steel hulls that were tied to this bank with such chains, when it was an industrial port. The voice of the fisherman brings me back to the present “Bonjour!”
McCartney, Andra. “Le terroir sonore du phare de Lachine.” Peripherique. Curated by Nicole Gingras. Groupe Intervention Video, December 2000. http://www.givideo.org.
Cette semaine nous participerons à Ambiances en Actes.
Le second Congrès International sur les Ambiances est placé sous l’égide duRéseau International Ambiances dont il constitue l’une des productions majeures. Organisé tous les quatre ans, il a pour objectif de créer un temps de rassemblement à l’échelle internationale pour les chercheurs et les acteurs (opérationnels et artistes) qui analysent les dimensions ambiantales de l’environnement construit et œuvrent à la fabrique sensible du monde contemporain.
Le domaine des ambiances architecturales et urbaines est traversé par de nombreuses démarches et de multiples apports qui en font sa richesse. Le congrès international sur les ambiances propose d’en être l’expression, se nourrissant de travaux à la recherche de circulations nouvelles entre le conçu et le vécu, le mesuré et le qualifié, le projeté et l’éprouvé, le matériel et l’immatériel.
Organisé du 19 au 22 septembre 2012 au Centre Canadien d’Architecture à Montréal (CCA), le congrès se fera l’expression de l’avancée des connaissances et des nouvelles hypothèses proposées par les différents champs disciplinaires et domaines d’activité qui mobilisent la question des ambiances.
This week we take part in the conference, Ambiances in Action.
The second International Congress on Ambiances will be held under the aegis of the International Ambiances Network. The congress, organized every four years, is one of the network’s main events, an international gathering for researchers, artists and players engaged in analyzing the ambiance-related dimensions of the built environment and in the sensory construction of the contemporary world.
Many approaches are at work in the field of architectural and urban ambiance, and these multiple contributions nurture its rich diversity. The International Congress on Ambiances aims to give voice to this activity, feeding on work exploring new forms of exchange between what is designed and what is experienced, between the measured and the qualified, the projected and the tested, the material and the immaterial.
The Congress will be held for four days at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), in Montreal, from 19 to 22 September 2012. It will seek to express advances in learning and new hypotheses proposed by the various disciplines and fields of activity which address the question of ambiances.
I have been reading Walking Archives: The Soy Children, by Argentinean artist and writer Eduardo Molinari. He walks us into the GMO soy fields of Monsanto, covering more than half of cultivated lands in that country. There is an oblique connection to the work of Soundwalking Interactions: the Buenos Aires soundwalk in December 2010 by chance crossed paths with a Monsanto demonstration.
Molinari says: “My archive … took shape based on three sources or types of documents: copies of the AGN’s [national archives] official photographic material, the photographs I take on walks, and lastly what I call junk or garbage documentation: scraps and fragments of print media (magazines, newspapers, graphics in general) and publications (books, posters, postcards, maps, etc.) Those three elements, joined together as a manual collage, have created the Documents of the Walking Archive…. The process behind the relationship between the Walking Archive and the collective processes I take part in has been coloured from the outset by the dynamic of the walker: it’s a relationship that’s always in context, always linked to others, always open to new forms of knowledge and practices. That’s why I refer to the Walking Archive as a project in which walking as an aesthetic practice and collective and interdisciplinary at ion are at the core.” (2012: 2)
Molinari, Eduardo. Walking Archives: The Soy Children. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2012.
The accompanying PDF file is an article by Andra McCartney published in Entitle, the electronic magazine of the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University (No. 03, Vol. 01, August 2010: 16-17), Malaysia. McCartney conducted a soundwalk in Kuala Lumpur’s downtown with a sound class from Multimedia University in late January 2010. You can hear (and see) the soundwalk below.
By Andra McCartney
One of the areas we want to think about in the Soundwalking Interactions project is how different kinds of interactions affect the way people approach and listen to soundscape installations. Here, I would like to discuss two attempts to engage audiences through the provision of texts that suggest to the audience to add to, change and embellish the existing logbook. I wrote about the first use of a logbook for audience interaction, in a paper called “Reception and Reflexivity in Electroacoustic Creation” for the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network conference in Paris, June 2008. Here is my discussion from that paper, with some editing changes based on more recent reflections:
In 1999-2000, I recorded soundwalks about every two weeks for a year, from the end of my street to my house, about a five minute walk. Half way through the year, I moved in Canada from Toronto, Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec, so the street changed while the practise remained the same. The following year, for a group sound art show at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I assembled the recordings on CD, made up a logbook in which I asked the audience questions about their relationship to sounds of home and neighbourhood, and invited listeners to respond to the work. There were three questions for listeners to consider: What sounds surround your home? What sounds remind you of home? What sounds constitute an ideal home? The CD player was positioned in the gallery next to an armchair with headphones, intending to remind listeners of a living room space.
This project has several features that characterise much of my recent work: a focus on a particular place, a historical dimension provided by repeated soundwalks over extended time in the same location, a consideration of related themes (in this case, home and migration), and an attempt to engage in dialogue with an audience.
The textual descriptions in the book recount the experience of the walks and add further contextual information. The listener comments converse with my work, and begin a dialogue between the visitors. Listeners focus on different elements of the soundwalk, depending on their experience. One person comments on the streetcars and suggests an ideal streetcar ambience in New Orleans, which I have not yet experienced but intend to. Also there is a difference of opinion about the sounds of children playing. One listener says that they like the sounds of children, whereas another says they would prefer the sounds of knives clashing in the shower. My work on Westerkamp’s Moments of Laughter (2000) included harsh and even hostile responses to the sound of a child’s voice being projected in a public sphere, and the knives in shower response is another example of that complex emotional response to an everyday domestic sound.
On pages not associated with particular sound pieces, the conversation sometimes became more abstract and more related to particular artists and art practices. Some listeners refered to the less than ideal gallery setup, where bright lights interfered with the semblance of a home-like intimacy, and the playback equipment was not adequate. This is a frequent complaint with sound-based installations in galleries that are designed for the showing of visual art.
The three artists discussed by visitors seem to be mentioned almost in passing, as people run into casually or heard in the car. Yet they are thematically related. All three share a similar interest with audience interaction, a direct and significant relationship with the Soundwalk to Home project. Composer Martin Arnold says “For me, experiencing art is co-creative with the maker.” (1985: 29), articulating an active role for the audience. Vito Acconci, an architect and performance artist influenced by Situationism, made work such as Seedbed (1972), that intended to create a situation of reciprocal exchange between artist and audience. Adrian
Piper’s work, including her soundwalks, is the most clearly connected to my own. She believes that art should be accessible, and can enact social change, that museums can shift from being zones of tranquillity to engage more directly with life on the street (Sokolowski 2001). The discussion on this logbook page led me to do further research on the practices of these artists, which has contributed to the refinement of my own practice, by thinking about different ways to work with audiences and to integrate the responses of audiences into the work.
At the bottom of the page is a response that is particularly satisfying. One listener expresses a desire to go out and walk, and intimates that they might pay more attention to their own creative practices as a result of engaging with this piece. This directly addresses my desire to encourage creativity in the audience.
The second example of a logbook is one that did not result in the same level of interaction, both in terms of amount of engagement as well as level of engagement. One reason for this may be changes that were made in the design of the log book.
One complaint that the gallery in Chicago had about the Soundwalk to Home logbook is that it appeared very amateurish. It had a DIY aesthetic, and looked a lot like an exercise book or casual journal. It was in a binder with plain paper including some computer print outs and some blank pages. While beginning to design a log book for the Journées Sonores: canal de Lachine project, I decided to make it look like a ’50s magazine, since the canal had been open to industrial traffic in the ’50s, and many of the people interviewed for the project had reminisced about how the canal sounded at that time. Lots of information about the project was included such as program notes, images, essays about the canal. A French section and an English section were included. Again, written encouragements to contribute to the log book were included, as well as several blank pages. We made 8 copies; 4 were taken from the opening, as people did not seem to realise that they were meant as log books. One was given to the museum for their archives. This left 3 that remained with the exhibit throughout its run of 3 months.
But even though there were several thousand visitors to this exhibit, just as with the exhibit in Chicago, and even though the exhibit lasted for three months instead of one month, the number of people who actually wrote in the book was much lower. Also, while visitors commented on the exhibit, there were no cases where a dialogue started to develop between different commentators.
This may be because the appearance of the logbook as a magazine with colour images led people to feel they would be marring or defacing the book. This is even though there were notes in the book encouraging people to write, and pens included for visitors to use. The professional look of the magazine, while attractive as a souvenir, made it less attractive to write in or contribute.
When we include logbooks in upcoming installations, we will go back to the DIY notebook aesthetic. Why bother with print, in the 21st century, when social networking, texting and GPS caching are more in vogue? While we will certainly seek these types of interactions, and recognise the great potential of Internet response for comments at a later time or in other places, often this potential for interaction through computers is not realised to the extent that might be expected.
We believe that it can be most effective to provide a variety of possible interactive modes, from online interaction to direct interaction in workshops and discussions to written interaction in logbooks. Some people prefer to respond in writing and like the tactile quality of the page and pen. Some people think best in live social situations and will discuss ideas in conversation much more readily than in writing, whether hand-writing or typing. Some prefer direct interaction with the sound through movement and gesture. We hope to provide all of these possibilities, in different combinations, throughout the project.
Article publié sur le site web Improvisation, Communauté et Pratiques Sociales
Certains partisans de la marche sonore ont décrit la capacité d’improvisation auditive requise pour réagir aux conditions météorologiques, saisonnières ainsi qu’à tous les autres changements de l’environnement sonore et du parcours des marcheurs selon les indices de leur réaction auditive. Malgré tout, les marches sonores sont généralement conçues à l’avance, les routes et événements étant prévues telles une partition qui dirige et limite l’expérience des participants. De la même façon, les marches sonores enregistrées, les marches avec casques d’écoute et les guides sonores offrent des expériences pré-délimitées aux auditeurs et auditrices. Les chercheurs en environnement proposent communément aux participants d’imaginer leur marche comme une composition sonore. Qu’arrive-t-il lorsque celle-ci est plutôt imaginée sur le mode de l’improvisation? Je propose dans cet article quelques pistes qui servent à démontrer les nombreux avantages qui accompagnent un tel changement d’orientation, spécifiquement au niveau de l’écoute, de la conception des marches sonores, de leur enregistrement, et du montage subséquent.
La marche sonore permet de créer un parcours centré sur l’écoute. Elle forme ainsi un lien entre l’expérience quotidienne de la marche, et celle plus créative de l’écoute. Cette écoute varie selon le contexte de la marche; enregistrée ou non, seul ou en groupe. Les marches en groupe sont traditionnellement menées par un ou une guide qui suggérera certains modes d’écoutes à explorer durant la marche. L’écoute peut ainsi être musicale, corporelle, historique, politique ou même multisensorielle. L’utilisation d’appareils d’enregistrement portable influencera aussi le déroulement de la marche, l’environnement sonore étant alors médiatisé et amplifié par le biais du microphone, et la marche influencée par la présence visible de celui ou celle qui fait la captation.
Dans mes installations d’environnement sonore, je tente de créer des situations dans lesquelles les participants peuvent interagir directement avec les sons. Avec Soundwalk to Home [marche sonore vers chez-soi], les auditeurs pouvaient choisir entre une série d’enregistrements décrits dans un livret dans lequel ils pouvaient aussi leurs commentaires ou souvenirs. Dans le cas de Journées Sonores : Canal de Lachine, les participants pouvaient choisir entre des extraits sonores historiques ou contemporains diffusés à même le casque d’un séchoir à cheveux des années 50. Dans un autre espace de la galerie, il était possible grâce à un mixeur de huit pistes, de reconstruire l’environnement sonore du canal en utilisant une variété de sons tels le craquement de la glace, des bruits de construction, des chants d’hirondelles, le bruit du trafic, etc. Ma prochaine installation permettra aux visiteurs d’interagir avec des enregistrements d’environnements sonores en se déplaçant dans l’espace de la galerie, et en utilisant un microphone.
Mon projet Soundwalking Interactions [la marche sonore comme processus d’interaction] a récemment reçu l’appui financier du gouvernement du Québec à travers son programme de recherche-création. Ce projet me permettra d’étudier la marche sonore, l’improvisation ainsi que la relation communicationnelle artiste-auditoire. La prochaine étape de ce projet consiste à développer des méthodes pour improviser directement avec des extraits provenant de marches sonores, en utilisant divers modules de mixage et d’effet de manière à mettre l’emphase sur certaines caractéristiques sonores des extraits, tout en permettant aux participants de contrôler ceux-ci à l’aide de mouvements corporels.