On Space and Sound: Study Day for Displaying, Collecting and Preserving Sound Pieces

9 November 2016
Cevdet Erek, 'Room of Rhythms - Curva' (2014), installation view from 'Open Museum Open City', MAXXI, Rome. Photo Musacchio Ianniello, courtesy Fondazione MAXXI - Rome
Cevdet Erek, 'Room of Rhythms - Curva' (2014), installation view from 'Open Museum Open City', MAXXI, Rome. Photo Musacchio Ianniello, courtesy Fondazione MAXXI - Rome

Collaborative seminar between British Art Network and Contemporary Art Society Subject Specialist Network on the topic of sound based art

Tate Britain, Thursday 27 October 2016, 11.00 -17.00.

This one day collaborative seminar brought together the two networks to explore the different aspects of displaying, collecting and preserving sound pieces. The seminar presented a series of short papers from invited artists, academics and curators followed by panel discussions and opportunities for networking.

This seminar focused on different aspects of displaying, collecting and preserving sound pieces. Discussing current commissions (Katrina Palmer, The Quarryman’s Daughters for Art Angel); exhibitions and recent sound displays (for example, Susan Phillipzs: War Damaged Musical Instruments) the group considered current theoretical, practical and institutional issues dealing with artists working with sounds as a sculptural medium, informing the networks about current practices in contemporary art.



Dr. Salomé Voegelin, Associate Professor in Sound Arts, Member of CRiSAP (Centre for Research in Sound Arts Practice) London College of Communication, UAL

Curating Volumes: hearing architecture, light and words
This talk considers the curating of sound art works and works with sound as the curation of invisible architectural “volumes”. Unlike architectural spaces, these diffuse volumes do not obey spatial limits but bleed and burn into other rooms and onto other works. Conversely, within its sphere, the sound of children laughing, the crackle of the security guard’s walkie-talkie and the foot steps of the gallery visitors all become apparent as part of the perceptual moment, influencing how we might experience the work. Conventional curatorial approaches might feel challenged by the uncontrollable invisibility of sound. Less well-off institutions might shy away from working with the diffuse materiality of sound because of the perceived need for expensive sound proofing and acoustic treatment. However, it is exactly the uncontrollable nature of sonic works, their diffuse and permeating nature that defines a radical edge in terms of exhibition display and demands a radical rethink of curatorial strategies. This talk suggests that it is not an issue of curating sculptural forms but formless volumes; and makes a plea for sound to be allowed to challenge and question the ideological conventions of aesthetic control: to let us rethink the museum as an invisible volume instead.

James Lingwood, Co-Director, Artangel

I want you to walk with me
The human voice is an important instrument in three Artangel commissions. Janet Cardiff’s The Missing Voice in Whitechapel, London E1, Katrina Palmer’s The Loss Adjusters on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, and Susan Philipsz’s Surround Me in the City of London. In these site-specific works, the recorded voice – notably the artist’s own – is deployed in sophisticated ways to move the listener though space and time. Amongst some 125 Artangel projects produced over the past decade and a half are Rachel Whiteread’s House (1993-94), Gabriel Orozco’s Empty Club (1996), Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of Orgreave (2001) in South Yorkshire, Francis Alÿs’s Seven Walks (2005), Susan Philipsz’s Surround Me (2010), and Katrina Palmer’s End Matter (2015). Artangel’s current project Inside: Artistsand Writers in Reading Prison features Marlene Dumas, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Wolfgang Tillmans amongst many others.


Cevdet Erek, Artist and Musician, Lecturer at the Turkish State Music Conservatory, Istanbul Technical University)

Illustrating the reading and transformation of architecture in Rooms of Rhythms
Rooms of Rhythms is a series of a blend of sounds, architectural interventions, objects, texts and performances. Since 2012 different versions of the series have been installed and performed at various venues, including Kunsthalle Basel, dOCUMENTA (13), Spike Island (Bristol), MAXXI (Rome), the 14th Istanbul Biennial, and the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Parts and extensions of the series have also been shown in other contexts. Although each version of Rooms of Rhythms involves experimentation and improvisation, they are all based on a shared strategy, engaging with the same means. The presentation mainly focuses on Room of Rhythms – Curva (MAXXI, Rome, 2014) and discusses how a work centred on the combination between sound and space can be reinterpreted and transformed by architectural means.


Elaine Speight and Professor Charles Quick, Curators of In Certain Places at University of Central Lancashire

Homing – commissioning site-specific sonic art
Professor Charles Quick and Elaine Speight present Homing – a site-specific sonic artwork by artists Jen Southern and Sam Thulin, commissioned by ‘In Certain Places’ for the North West city of Preston. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of Preston Remembers (a First World War commemorative project), Homing is an artwork which extends between different people, places and times. Experienced through headphones and GPS activated, it generates an intimate and emotional landscape, which connects Preston City Centre with the battle fields of the Somme, and emphasises the significance of home within conflict situations. Outlining In Certain Places’ commissioning approach, the presentation explores the artistic opportunities and practical challenges involved in commissioning sonic art in the public realm. In particular, it discusses how a pre-existing understanding of public spaces as the products of human activities, memories and relationships was central to the collaborative nature of the project, which was developed with groups, individuals and institutions from across Preston and beyond.


Susan Philipsz, Artist (due the the very visual presentation please see also the Facebook Live Recording below)

War Damaged Musical Instruments
Over the past few years Susan Philipsz has developed an ongoing archive of recordings of war damaged musical instruments from collections in museums across Europe. The instruments are extremely evocative, battered and mutilated brass and wind instruments that speak of the crushing effects of war on all aspects of our existence. Some instruments, like the Balaclava Bugle, have detailed histories while others, shot through with bullets, are damaged with no account of how or when the damage occurred. Philipsz has focused on the brass and woodwind family, as these instruments need the human breath to produce the sound and subsequently all the recordings have a strong human presence. The artist presents two very different installations of this project at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (2015) and at Tate Britain (2015).


Ann Gallagher, Director of Collection, British Art, Tate and Louise Lawson, Conservation Manager (Sculpture and Time Based Media) Tate

Sound IN Spaces: The Conservation Challenges of Activation and Installation
Tate collection of sound works is varied, encompassing film and video works with sound, sound works with an integral sculptural component and others that would be considered as just audio works. Sound works at Tate have been collected since the early 1970’s and this collecting has continued for over forty years. The presentation considers the challenges of collecting sound works in the context of the spaces across Tate, focusing on the conservation challenges that both the artworks and spaces present. Exploring the display solutions and conservation treatments that have ensured successful activation and installation.




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