Stephen Vitiello


From composing electronic music to scoring experimental videos to making larger-scale public installations that create immersive soundscapes, sound artist Stephen Vitiello invites his audience to reinterpret sound. He took us on a sonic tour of his work including recordings from a 1999 residency at the World Trade Center and his sound installation at New York City’s High Line, “A Bell for Every Minute.”


Sound Artist, Stephen Vitiello, encourages you to “close your eyes to watch this talk.” A talk of sound, he explains that your eyes process images more slowly than your ears process sound. Close your eyes and listen well.

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. It was filmed and edited by Tijo Media at the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center in Richmond, VA.

#sound #listen #VCUarts #kineticimaging

Electronic musician Stephen Vitiello’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon. His exhibitions include a site-specific work for New York City’s High Line and the 2006 Biennial of Sydney. Vitiello has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts, Creative Capital funding for Emerging Fields, and an Alpert/Ucross Award for Music. In 2012, Australian Television produced the documentary, “Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent.” Originally from New York, Vitiello is now based in Richmond, VA where he is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Stephen Vitiello (b. 1964, New York City)
Solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-(ongoing)); A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011); More Songs About Buildings and Bells, Museum 52, New York (2011); and Stephen Vitiello, The Project, New York (2006). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2013); Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002). Vitiello has performed nationally and internationally, at locations such as the Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, New York; and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. In 2011, ABC-TV, Australia produced the documentary Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent. Awards include Creative Capital (2006) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.

“Electronic musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello transforms incidental atmospheric noises into mesmerizing soundscapes that alter our perception of the surrounding environment. He has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with such artists as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler and Dara Birnbaum. In 1999 he was awarded a studio for six months on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One, where he recorded the cracking noises of the building swaying under the stress of the winds after Hurricane Floyd. As an installation artist, he is particularly interested in the physical aspect of sound and its potential to define the form and atmosphere of a spatial environment.”

Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain catalog for the exhibition
Ce qui arrive/Unknown Quantity, 2002

http://www.stephenvitiello.com

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Camille Norment

Triplight, 2008
Light sculpture
1955 Shure microphone, light, electronic components
Dimensions variable
Edition of 2

As a cultural icon, the 1955 Shure Microphone can be said to symbolize ‘the golden years’. In this work, the microphone housing contains a bright piercing light that casts a large shadow reminiscent of a metal mask or ribcage onto the wall. Periodically at random intervals, the light flickers like a bulb casting its last rays of light; it is the silent noise of social realities and the suppressed voice.
The glowing light and skeletal shadow cast by Triplight tell parallel stories of its time and mirror our own, beautifully revealing contradictions in the silent stutter of its unstable light.
The word ‘triplight’ refers to a trigger that sets off a state of alarm. It also refers to “trip the light fantastic”, a historical reference to a type of dance, and more recently a state of hallucination.

http://www.norment.net/work/objects-installations-ind/triplight

David Byrne


Playing the Building, Battery Maritime Building, New York, NY, 2008

Creative Time presents Playing the building, a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

Some years ago Jan approached me through our mutual friend Anne Pasternak about doing something at Färgfabriken. I visited the space during one of my music tours and took photos so I could remember the way it looked. For a while we talked about an exhibition, and some other ideas, but for various reasons those didn’t happen. I seem to remember that both Anne and Jan suggested I do something that might bring together my visual art interests and projects and my musical background.

After thinking about it for a while and looking at the pictures of the space I suggested an installation that would produce sound and would take advantage of the fact that the institution is housed in a raw factory space — with exposed pipes, heating and structural elements (unlike most museums and galleries where these elements are hidden.) I also wanted an installation that involved the public, the visitors to Färgfabriken, so this would do that too. It would be more “hands on” than most exhibitions where one can look but not touch.

Here is my proposal:

A sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of a building is converted into a giant musical instrument. (I use the term musical loosely. It might not play melodies in the conventional sense… but it might.)

To create this various devices are attached to parts of the building structure — to the metal beams, the plumbing, the electrical conduits, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. No amplification is used, no computer synthesis of sound, and there are no speakers. The machines will produce sound in three ways: through wind, vibration and striking. The devices that are part of the piece do not produce sound on their own, but instead they cause the building elements themselves to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

It is a way of activating the sound-producing qualities that are inherent in all materials. The materials’ nature and form will be what determines what kind of sound they produce. Everyone knows that if you strike a metal beam with your hand you get a sound — well, this piece does a similar thing, but without hurting your hand, and it will be able to activate materials in different parts of the space simultaneously — something you cannot do with your hands.

Wind:
A blower forces air through electrical conduits or pipes, eliciting a whistling series of notes, depending on the length of the pipe. (The wind will blow through the electrical conduits by a small air pump. At sufficient pressure the air will cause the air inside the conduit pipes to resonate and produce flute-like tones.)

Vibration:
Machines attached to the metal crossbeams cause them to vibrate, sending out a low hum and throbbing sound. The girders can be made to vibrate using oscillating motors… and since the girders are of varying lengths they will produce different pitches and sounds. They will need electrical power and another cable running from the keyboard/switcher, which will turn them on and off. There will be maybe 4 or 6 of these units scattered around the room, some near and some far away.

Striking:
The hollow metal columns that line the interior of the space are made to clang and ping. These large iron objects can be struck by mechanical devices — solenoids — much like mechanical bell clappers.

The wiring and the mechanics will be plainly visible — no attempt will be made to conceal any mechanism or wiring.

Switches that activate these machines are triggered by a simple keyboard located at a central position (within viewing distance of all the machines and of the pipes or beams whose vibrations they control, so that visitors might hear what depressing each key does.) Visitors are invited to sit at the keyboard and “play” the building. Some keys might trigger machines that activate the specific structures gradually — a quick tap on some keys might produce no result, but a steady depression would allow oscillations to build up and a sound to emerge. A handwritten legend above each note group will describe which part of the building that note activates.

(Possibly the keyboard could be coin-operated. It takes a few Kr to make it active for a few minutes. This would emphasize the mechanical nature and place a time limit on “performances”.)

The machines that activate the pipes and crossbeams would not do them any structural harm or damage. There would be no danger to the building or the visitor.

DB August 05

http://davidbyrne.com/explore/playing-the-building

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

Janet Cardiff
Whispering Room, 1991
Dimensions: variable room size
Duration: Looped playback of 16 audio tracks of various lengths (from 40 sec. to 3 min.)
Materials: audio, speakers, projected film loop

“Throughout the exhibition space are sixteen small bare audio speakers mounted on metal stands. The lighting is low. From each speaker a female voice is heard, sometimes conversing with another, describing events or actions from various viewpoints; observational, experiential, past, present, or future, in twenty to forty second segments. Each speaker plays a different dialogue. The story is unraveled by the way the listener moves from speaker to speaker through the space. Breaking into the atmosphere of quiet voices is an image projected onto the wall from a l6mm film projector. A film loop of a girl tap-dancing in the forest plays for 30 seconds and then shuts off.”
– Cardiff

http://www.luhringaugustine.com/artists/cardiff-and-miller


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
The Forty Part Motet

The Power Of 40 Speakers In A Room
March 10, 20174:21 AM ET

In Wim Wenders’ wonderful movie Wings of Desire, angels hear what a person is thinking and feeling as they hover nearby. As angels move among people, voices come in and out of focus for them.

Janet Cardiff’s 2001 art installation “Forty-Part Motet,” which is now in its final weeks on view at the splendid Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., does something similar. You enter the room and you encounter 40 speakers, arranged in an oval, playing a recording of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing Spem in alium (Hope in any other), which was composed by Englishman Thomas Tallis in 1556. The Tallis piece itself is for 40 male voices, organized into eight choirs of five singers (bass, baritone, alto, tenor, child soprano). Cardiff has recorded each singer with an individual mic and each singer’s part is played through just one of the speakers (which are, in turn, clumped into eight groups of five speakers).

You could opt to sit in the middle of the room and listen to the wall of sound created by the joint effect of each speaker, but you could also move about the room, angel-like, swooping down on this voice or that, causing through your action one voice to pop out and another to be drowned out.

In this way, the work invites you not only to enjoy the music, but to remix it, by sampling voices. It is an opportunity to intrude, harmlessly, into the intimate sphere of each singer. You can get so close that you can hear their imperfections in ways that get lost when they are subsumed in the whole — and that you could never hear from your seat in the audience of a conventional concert performance.

This slightly voyeuristic, eavesdropping quality is enhanced by the fact that the recording doesn’t stop when the singing is over. You can drop in on the different singers as they chit-chat and gossip among themselves.

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www.cardiffmiller.com

Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2014) has influenced American music extensively in her career spanning more than 60 years as a composer, performer, author and philosopher. She pioneered the concept of Deep Listening, her practice based upon principles of improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation, designed to inspire both trained and untrained musicians to practice the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions in solo and ensemble situations. During the mid-’60s she served as the first director of the Tape Music Center at Mills College, aka Center for Contemporary Music followed by 14-years as Professor of Music and 3 years as Director of the Center for Music Experiment at the University of California at San Diego. Since 2001 she has served as Distinguished Research Professor of Music in the Arts department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where she is engaged in research on a National Science Foundation CreativeIT project. Her research interests include improvisation, special needs interfaces and telepresence teaching and performing. She also serves as Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College doing telepresence teaching and she is executive director of Deep Listening Institute, Ltd. where she leads projects in Deep Listening, Adaptive Use Interface. She is the recipient of the 2009 William Schuman Award from Columbia University for lifetime achievement. A retrospective from 1960 to 2010 was performed at Miller Theater, Columbia University in New York March 27, 2010 in conjunction with the Schuman award. She received a third honorary degree from DeMontort University, Leicester, UK July 23, 2010. Recent recordings include Pauline Oliveros & Miya Masoka and Pauine Oliveros & Chris Brown on Deep Listening.

http://www.deeplistening.org

Lis Rhodes

Light Music is an innovative work presented originally as a performance that experiments with celluloid and sound to push the formal, spatial and performative boundaries of cinema. An iconic work of expanded cinema, it creates a more central and participatory role for the viewer within a dynamic, immersive environment.

Formed from two projections facing one another on opposite screens, Light Music is Rhodes’s response to what she perceived as the lack of attention paid to women composers in European music. She composed a ‘score’ comprised of drawings that form abstract patterns of black and white lines onscreen. The drawings are printed onto the optical edge of the filmstrip. As the bands of light and dark pass through the projector they are ‘read’ as audio, creating an intense soundtrack, forming a direct, indexical relationship between the sonic and the visual. What one hears is the aural equivalent to the flickering patterns on the screens.

Light Music is projected into a hazy room – the beams that traverse one another in the space between the two projections become ethereal sculptural forms comprised of light, shadow and theatrical smoke. This format is designed to encourage viewers to move between the screens, directly engaging with the projection beams, forming a set of social relations in which cinema is transformed into a collective event without a single point of focus. Light Music occupies an important threshold in film history, drawing on early experiments in ‘visual music’ from the 1920s by pioneers including Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter and Walther Ruttmann, and subsequently opening cinematic practice up to a host of concerns from gender politics to phenomenological experience.

Lis Rhodes (born 1942, London) is a major figure in the history of artists’ filmmaking in Britain and was a leading member of the influential London Filmmakers’ Co-op. She currently lives and works in London, where a survey exhibition of her career, Lis Rhodes: Dissonance and Disturbance, was held at the ICA from January to March 2012. Her films are distributed by LUX.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern-tanks/display/lis-rhodes-light-music

Tony Conrad


The Theater of Eternal Music performing in 1965. From left, Mr. Conrad, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and John Cale.
FRED W. MCDARRAH / GETTY IMAGES

Tony Conrad Was Such a Good Minimalist, He Was Almost Forgotten
By WILLIAM ROBIN
MARCH 24, 2017

In February 1963, a 22-year-old experimental violinist named Tony Conrad stood outside Philharmonic (now David Geffen) Hall in New York wearing a signboard that read “Demolish Lincoln Center!” With the composer Henry Flynt and the filmmaker Jack Smith, Mr. Conrad formed a three-man picket line that spent a day marching at the center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were protesting, Mr. Conrad later recalled, “the imperialist influences of European high culture” and gesturing toward “the dismantling and dispersion of any and all organized cultural forms.”

Anti-authoritarian actions soon became typical for Mr. Conrad, whose significant legacy in music, film and performance remained relatively unknown when he died last April at 76.

“Tony Conrad is as punk rock as anyone who ever had the audacity to call themselves punk rock,” said the writer and musician Henry Rollins, formerly of Black Flag, who moderated a post-screening conversation for the new documentary “Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present” in Los Angeles earlier this month. On Friday, March 31, the film has its American theatrical premiere at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village.

At the time of the Lincoln Center protest, Mr. Conrad was playing a formative role in the sound of Minimalism as a performer in the improvising ensemble Theater of Eternal Music. The next year, he and his roommate, John Cale, were recruited to join a rock group with Lou Reed known as the Primitives, the precursor to the Velvet Underground. Rather than joining that band, Mr. Conrad moved on to other art forms, becoming a pioneer in structural film with “The Flicker” (1966), a trippy juxtaposition of black-and-white frames that reportedly caused some audience members to become physically ill.

“It seemed to be the thing that drove almost everything: There was just an incredible resistance to authority,” the new documentary’s director, Tyler Hubby, said in a recent interview. “It got very deep, the idea of resisting these established institutionalized ideas. Why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we do something different? Why can’t we make something new or see something in a different way?”

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