Symphony of Sirens: Sound Art and Performance

Symphony of Sirens: A performative experiment in sound

In 1922, avant-garde composer and music theorist, Arseny Avraamov debuted his masterpiece, Гудковая симфония, “Symphony of Factory Sirens,” better known as the “Symphony of Sirens.” He orchestrated this half an hour-long sound experiment in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan for the fifth anniversary of the October Revolution. This piece was performed across a great expanse of the city by way of multiple conductors, simultaneously directing various sirens, automobile horns, cannons, guns, airplanes and massive bands and choirs. The conductors were elevated on tall podiums with pistols and torches to direct, in different locations across the city.

The link here is a reproduction of what this piece would have sounded like.

Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties

Image: Carole Itter, Raw Egg Costume. Courtesy of the artist.

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia and the grunt gallery, Vancouver, are delighted to announce the launch of Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties, an online resource and digital archive incorporating hundreds of photographs, press clippings, audio recordings and film clips. Drawn from private collections and archives as well as public sources, Ruins in Process brings together the research of many artists, curators and writers in an exploration of the diverse artistic practices of Vancouver art in the 1960s and early 1970s. Collaborative methods, interdisciplinary activity and an interest in emerging technologies are revealed in the selections of the contributors to this educational resource.

The website has a fully searchable digital collection, video interviews with artists Ingrid Baxter, Christos Dikeakos, Carole Itter, and Gary Lee-Nova, as well as a number of essays that contextualize the work in the archive.

Five project sites document in detail the work of specific artists and collectives and explore the relationships between artistic media.

Aboriginal Art in the Sixties, curated by Marcia Crosby and Roberta Kremer, examines the relationship of visual artists to broadcast and print media, political movements and the city.

Al Neil, curated by Glenn Alteen, combines documentation from performances, concerts and readings as well as photo-documentation of collage, assemblage and text by and about the artist.

Expanded Literary Practice, curated by Charo Neville and Michael Turner, looks at the relationships between writing and visual art and the merging of the two in concrete poetry.

The Intermedia Catalogue, curated by Michael de Courcy, archives the activities of this interdisciplinary collective of artists, musicians, writers, film and video makers and performers.

Transmission Difficulties: Painting in the Sixties, curated by Scott Watson, examines the many challenges to the idea of high art that were posed by electronic communication and psychedelic exploration.

Ruins in Process is produced through a partnership of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia and the grunt gallery, Vancouver. The project is managed by Lorna Brown, with technical direction and design by Jeff Khonsary and Courtenay Webber of The Future. Editorial direction is provided by Scott Watson, Glenn Alteen and Lorna Brown. Additional project site design by Dexter Sinister, Archer Pechawis, and James Szuszkiewicz.

Ruins in Process is made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy. We are also grateful for the assistance of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Christopher Baker : Hello World

‘Hello World!’ by Christopher Baker (USA)

Hello World! is a large-scale audio visual installation comprised of thousands of unique video diaries gathered from the internet. The project is a meditation on the contemporary plight of democratic, participative media and the fundamental human desire to be heard.

On one hand, new media technologies like YouTube have enabled new speakers at an alarming rate. On the other hand, no new technologies have emerged that allow us to listen to all of these new public speakers. Each video consists of a single lone individual speaking candidly to a (potentially massive) imagined audience from a private space such as a bedroom, kitchen, or dorm room. The multi-channel sound composition glides between individuals and the group, allowing viewers to listen in on unique speakers or become immersed in the cacophony. Viewers are encouraged to dwell in the space.

see video on

Deirdre Logue: Enlightened Nonsense


10 Short Performance Films: 1997 – 2000. A series of ten thematically related film works entitled Enlightened Nonsense. These works were produced within a similar framework and the same minimal resources. The films were shot, hand-processed and edited within a total of approximately one week. Like a week long performance, self imposed limitations, a concentration of time and the intensity of the production framework are elements conducive to and in keeping with the subject matter.

Art Hop – Dec. 5th


Faculty and students from the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University will exhibit their art during the December 5 Art Hop at the Park Trades Center in downtown Kalamazoo. Ten faculty will open their studios to the public from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 326 W. Kalamazoo Avenue to exhibit and discuss their work. This is a great opportunity to meet the artists, experience their creative environments, see their work in progress, and explore a significant number of competed works on display. Karen Bondarchuk (drawing and sculpture), Cat Crotchett (painting), Bill Davis (photography), Dick dePeaux (painting), Trish Hennessy (painting and design), Dick Keaveny (painting), Adriane Little (photography), Nichole Maury (printmaking), Ginger Owen (photography), and Vince Torano (painting) will open their studio doors to the public.

In addition to the faculty, four student organizations will be exhibiting and selling their work — the ceramics and jewelry/metals guilds will be located in studio 202B and graphic design and photography students will be set up in 412. About 50 students will be participating in this event. Proceeds will be split between the artists and the sponsoring student guild. Frostic School of Art student guilds provide activities that integrate educational and professional experiences including field trips, guest speakers, and attendance at national conferences.

Richard Avedon @ GRAM

Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
Ingrid Bolting, Coat by Dior, Paris, January 1970
Gelatin silver print ©2008 The Richard Avedon Foundation. Courtesy The Richard Avedon Foundation

Grand Rapids Art Museum
October 3, 2008 – January 4, 2009

Richard Avedon (1923–2004), one of the most important American photographers of the modern era, traces his dynamic career from the postwar years of the late 1940s in Europe to the early 21st century. Avedon set new precedents in fashion and portrait photography with his innovative approach to the medium. He also established a reputation as one of the greatest camera portraitists of our time.

After World War II, Avedon began taking photographs of street performers in Italy while doing freelance fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar, where he subsequently served as chief photographer until 1966. During his years at Harper’s, Avedon created a new kind of fashion photography that transformed models from posed mannequins into actresses. He set his models in the city streets, bistros, and urban landmarks of Paris. In the studio, he required them to move and leap like dancers. The 1957 film Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn, cast Fred Astaire as fashion photographer, Dick Avery, a character based on Avedon, who consulted on the film and designed the opening titles.

In 1966 Avedon left Harper’s for Vogue and shifted his focus to portraiture, which he had begun in the late 1950s. Through the rest of his life, Avedon created powerfully engaging and unsparing portraits of actors, artists, writers, politicians, and intellectuals. His portraits are distinguished by their minimalist style. Posed in front of a sheer white background, the subject looks squarely into the camera. Avedon considered portrait photography a collaborative process. He admired his subjects and captured them in revealing moments as they paused in conversation with him.

Avedon’s subjects were often larger than life personalities. His photographs of President Gerald Ford, Rose Kennedy, The Beatles, and Louis Armstrong are portraits that document the 20th century. The famous and familiar people that he photographed were distinctly un-glamorized, yet their images are monumental in presence. His subjects also included sitters such as the Napalm victims he photographed on his 1971 visit to Vietnam. Avedon’s series In the American West, 1979–84, included drifters, miners, field hands, and working people from the western United States. However anonymous these subjects were, they have the same psychological presence and dignity as Avedon’s portraits of the powerful and celebrated.

Richard Avedon died suddenly in 2004 from a brain hemorrhage while shooting in San Antonio, Texas, for The New Yorker magazine. His project was titled On Democracy, befitting an American photographer who defined the stylish optimism of postwar modernism and immortalized the forthright faces of people who, in their time, were larger than life.

RICHARD AVEDON: LARGER THAN LIFE is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography for an exclusive presentation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum from October 3, 2008 through January 4, 2009. The exhibition includes over 80 photographs drawn from the collection of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, which houses the Richard Avedon Archive.

Grand Rapids Art Museum