The ‘Panels’ Symposium – a picture book

November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

On Friday October 29th and Sunday October 30th an impressive international group of sound artists and sound scientists gathered on the – from an architectural & acoustical point of view near to magical – upper floor of the Wiebengahal in Maastricht, home to the Bureau Europa/NAiM and (until january 16th, 2011) Paul Devens’ installation ‘Panels’, for a dense and concentrated series of lectures and performances around the themes of ‘the public, the sonic and the spatial’.

The title of Karin Bijsterveld’s lecture aptly summarized the central concern of this 2-day symposium: “Listening in Space and Space for Listening”.

The following picture book gives a succint atmospheric overview of the event. It is also sort of a teaser: for I am pretty sure that it will make you wish you had been there …

All pictures were shot by Ton Eyssen.

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The Ringing Wealth of Curves

October 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

When I was much younger than I am now I often sat under bridges and marveled at the reverberation and the echoes that came whirling back to me from the curved (concrete, metal or other) structures above my head. And I found that while strumming my guitar there definitely was good, screaming, shouting and stamping around were even better.
As far as the screaming and stamping goes, I especially remember one little bridge in the small town of Luxembourg, which crosses the Sauer from the Luxembourg to the German side. Here is a picture:

wasserbillig bridge

Part of the reason why I do remember that particular spot so very well is that it was under this Wasserbillig bridge that in the summer of 1973, with a small battery powered portable cassette machine, I made one of my very first outdoors recordings. The resulting five minute soundbite always remained dear to me. Every now and then I listen to it ( † ). And though of course even the best recording would not be able to emulate the physical sensation of being part of that small curved space and its particular acoustics, it does ensure that I will never forget the Wasserbillig bridge.

It therefore is no wonder that I was struck by a Wasserbillig ghost when on Monday October 3th I entered, for the first time, the upper floor of the Wiebengahal on the Avenue Céramique in Maastricht and heard the rattling echoes of my footsteps under the low semicircular concrete shell roof.
The peculiar acoustics of this vast (some 800 m2) space is the subject of Panels, an intricate installation by Dutch sound artist Paul Devens.

paul devens panels

Paul molds, transforms and re-shapes the hall’s acoustic ‘matter’ by means of four metal ‘bridges’. These are the panels that the title of the installation refers to. Covered with acoustic foam, and according to a fixed, programmed, scheme, they slowly move along four long metal tubes that on both sides are fixed just above the floor. When they do, they squeak and moan. Softly, like chained and forgotten old Céramique ghosts. And there was a distant crackling, irregular yet rhythmic, as if raindrops were hitting a thin metal roof.

paul devens panels

The panels’ ride continuously transforms the space and its acoustic. This ongoing transformation is made audible by means of feedback, generated by 16 loudspeakers on one side and 16 corresponding microphones on the other side, placed in a wedge-like pattern. In order to avoid that the resulting tone field gets dominated by single pure frequencies, a notch filter is applied as soon as these emerge. Here is a short sound file to give you an impression:

A mere recording, though, can do Panels no justice. And neither does the work’s matter-of-factly and prosaic title. (But that is of course a matter of taste. Or of temperament.) The panels are the tools that are applied to reveal what is the true heart of the matter: the ringing wealth of the very special acoustics of this curved surviving trace of Maastricht’s industrial past. The Wiebengahal is one of the few buildings that were spared when, starting in the late 1980s, the industrial park that used to be home to the Société Céramique, was transformed into an office and residential area. Paul’s equally industrial installation fits the Wiebengahal’s attic, almost literally, like a glove. The result is monumental. Panels fills the hall with slowly meandering clouds of almost tangible sound that make the vast empty space seem eerily timeles. I was both surprised and impressed, already then, in broad daylight. But while I wandered back and forth beneath the gliding arcs I wondered. Would the magic not be even bigger were one to come here alone and sit and listen at night, with nothing but the glow of the city lights, maybe along with that of the moon and some lone stars, falling through the roof’s curved glass windows?

It was at this precise moment of reflection that one of the moving panels accidentally set off the Wiebengahal’s burglar alarm. With its painful and penetrating yell it blew up the clouds and chased us away, along with our dreams and all of the Céramique’s ghosts.

[ Panels can be seen and heard daily (except on mondays) until January 16th 2011, at NAiM/Bureau Europa, Avenue Céramique 226, Maastricht (the Netherlands). October 29-30 the installation will be the setting for a two day symposium with a series of performances, centering on the manifold aspects of the relation between space and sound. For a detailed program, see the previous post. ]

[ ( † ) The curious and courageous may find my 1973 Wasserbillig soundbite here. ]

Symposium: The public, the sonic, the spatial

October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

On Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, the Panels installation by Paul Devens (on display at NAiM/Bureau Europa, Avenue Céramique 226 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, until 16 January 2011), will provide the setting for a symposium and a series of performances related to space and sound. Paul invited a number of artists, theorists and architects to lecture and perform at the heart of his installation. The symposium will focus on the relationship between sound, image and architectonic space.

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‘An inquiry into the spatial, the sonic and the public’ is presented by Armeno Alberts, sound artist, programme-maker, and director of the CEM studio for electronic music. Alberts worked with the radio programme Cafe Sonore for the VPRO (national broadcasting station), which was the most important programme on sound art in the Netherlands. Alberts also takes on cross-border projects, such as the yearly ‘Art’s Birthday’, which links ten countries directly via internet and satellite, exchanging and broadcasting live concerts.

Here is what you can expect during this special sound/art/science event in Maastricht:

Friday October 29th, 13h-18h: Lectures

Karin Bijsterveld (NL)
The research performed by the historian Bijsterveld is directed toward the – historical – problems associated with noise, the link between technological developments and music, and historical sound. Bijsterveld is the author of numerous publications and is a professor of the Technology and Social Sciences Department at the University of Maastricht.

Eran Sachs (IL/DE)
Eran Sachs is a sound artist, curator and musicologist. He is active in the world of the establishment, in the symphony orchestra of Jerusalem, and in the underground. By mixing consoles where the inputs are connected to the outputs, he is able to produce unsettling loud sounds that have little in common with normal symphonic structures. His energetic live compositions can be referred to as ‘noise music’. He was the curator of present-day electronic music and sound art of Levontin 7 (Tel Aviv) and the ctrl_alt_del festival (Istanbul), among others.

Emre Erkal (TR)
The Turkish architect and sound artist Erkal studies the significance of planology (spatial planning) and architecture against a changing cultural background. Erkal is active as an architect in Ankara and works as an artist in an international field. He has exhibited work at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, at the Singel Cultural Centre in Antwerp, and at the Vooruit in Gent, among other places. He is also one of the founders of NOMAD, a platform for new media and present-day art and, as such, one of the initiators of ctrl_alt_del, the first sound art festival in Turkey, at Istanbul.

Wim Langenhoff (NL)
Langenhoff was educated in Arts and Sciences and works as a Conceptual Engineer for various companies, ranging from the amusement industry to sulphuric acid production. On the basis of his portfolio as an artist, he switched from Research to Advertising at the NatLab in Eindhoven, after ten years’ research, and soon became the marketing and business operations consultant. In the mid-sixties, Langenhoff founded the ‘New Electric Chamber Music’, an artists’ ensemble that experimented with self-made electronics and prototypes from Philips’s NatLab. He is chairman of the Instituut voor Betaalbare Waanzin (Institute for Affordable Nonsense) and is still active as an organizational expert within trade & industry.

Brandon Labelle (DE/US)
The versatile artist Labelle makes sonological installations, gives performances with electro-acoustic sound, and issues his own work and that of others on CD. Labelle is an authority as a publicist and writer. In one of his publications, Background Noise, Perspectives on Sound Art, he positions sound art at the very heart of contemporary art. In his book he describes not only the various forms of expression such as performance, installation and composition, but also elucidates sound as a phenomenon in relation to local circumstances, culture and society.

Friday October 29th, 20h30-23h: Concerts in Panels

Performances by Brandon Labelle and Eran Sachs.

Saturday October 30th, 13h-18h: Lectures

Raviv Ganchrow (NL/IL)
The architect, sonologist and sound artist Ganchrow studies the inextricable link between space and architecture. He develops autonomous installations with self-designed sound technology, such as the ‘Wave Field Synthesis’. Ganchrow exhibits his work and gives performances both at home and abroad. In addition, he is a teacher at the Institute for Sonology in The Hague, at the Academy for Architecture in Arnhem, and at Delft University of Technology.

Basak Senova (TR)
Curator, designer and publicist Senova is the initiator of a great many present-day art projects, often related to the new media. She is a founder of NOMAD, a platform for critical reflection ad the production of exhibitions and projects. Senova is head of the organization behind ctrl_alt_del, the first sound art festival to be held in Turkey, which is still linked to the to the Biennial of Istanbul, and she was the commissioner of the Turkish Pavilion at the Biennial of Venice in 2009.

Justin Bennett (NL/VK)
The work of the sound artist Bennett is often inspired by the context of a specific environment and his work is mainly location-related. Bennett’s work consists of installations, sound strolls and CD issues. He also gives performances with his BMB con ensemble, jointly with Roelf Toxopeus.

Esther Venrooy (NL)
Venrooy is an artist par excellence who is not satisfied with the musical scope offered by classical music. After her saxophone study she investigated the technical and performance qualities of electronics. The physical qualities of (exhibition) space have been increasingly incorporated in her productions in the last few years. Besides her work as a performer, composer, teacher and artist, Venrooy is also currently following a PhD course.

Kees Tazelaar (NL)
The composer of electronic and electro-acoustic music and head of the
Institute for Sonology at the Conservatory of Music in The Hague is also known for his restoration of and reconstruction work on historical electronic compositions. Thanks to his commitment, the work of Gottfried Michael Koenig, Jan Boerman, Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti, Luctor Ponse and the multi-channel sound track of the Poème Electronique of Edgard Varèse has been preserved on the basis of the original tapes.

Janek Schaefer (GB)
Schaefer is a composer and sound artist. He is the inventor of the turntable with several tone arms. The much-honoured British artist issues records and CDs with his ‘deconstructed’ view of reality, involving field recordings and so-called ‘found-footage’ in collage form.

Saturday October 30th, 20h30-00h: Concerts in Panels

Janek Schaeffer, Esther Venrooy and BMB con (Justin Bennett and Roelf Toxopeus)

On both days it is possible to participate in a dinner at Ipanema at 7 p.m.

Costs:

  • Full programme: € 32.50, (students: € 25.00)
  • Day programme (friday or saturday): € 17.50
  • Half a day (morning or afternoon): € 10.00
  • Participation in dinner per day:€ 15.00

You can inscribe for the symposium at the Bureau-Europa website.

Symposium: an inquiry into the spatial, the sonic and the public

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Paul Devens’ installation Panels will be the setting for a symposium and a series of performances on space and sound, co-organised by NAiM Bureau Europa and Stichting Intro/In Situ in Maastricht (the Netherlands), as part of the RESONANCE project. On Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, various artists, theorists and architects will come to Maastricht for a series lectures and performances in the middle of Paul Devens’ installation.

Participants in the symposium will include Justin Bennett (NL/GB, sound artist/composer), Karin Bijsterveld (NL, historian/Professor of Science, Technology and Modern Culture at the University of Maastricht), Emre Erkal (TR, architect/sound artist), Raviv Ganchrow (NL/IL, architect/sound artist), Brandon Labelle (DE/US, artist/composer/writer), Wim Langenhoff (NL, chemist/musician/founder of The New Electric Chamber Music), Eran Sachs (IL/DE, curator/sound artist/composer), Janek Schaefer (GB, sound artist/musician/composer), Basak Senova (TR, curator/writer/designer), Kees Tazelaar (NL, composer/head of the Institute for Sonology in The Hague), and Esther Venrooy (BE/NL, sound artist/composer).

A detailed program will follow soon

PANELS, by Paul Devens

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

An inquiry into the spatial, the sonic and the public.

From 12 September 2010 to 16 January 2011 the sound installation entitled Panels. An inquiry into the spatial, the sonic and the public, by Dutch soundartist Paul Devens can be experienced, viewed and heard at NAiM/Bureau Europa in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The installation in NAiM’s Wiebengahal with its characteristic semicircular concrete shell roof occupies the whole upper story, covering no less than 800 m2. The work by Paul Devens offers the visitor an alienating architectonic experience in which sound and light play a major role.

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