DECAY: degradation, release, and melting away
The Worst Mankind
Hosted by Wayne Garrett & Caitlind Brown.
This month, we’re highlighting sound-based artworks exploring DECAY as an abstract or literal phenomenon. In the organic world, decay is tied to end-of-life cycles and decomposition through bacteria and fungi. In music, decay references the time it takes for a sound to ring out, for a note to disappear into silence. But decay is so much more. A sound can decay, a garbage dump can rot, a person’s faith in their political system can degrade over time. Anything whole can begin to decay, but this process is just a part of the cycle of recession and growth – decay is useful. It nourishes. It makes fertilizer and comfortable homes for hibernating creatures. Do not be fooled: decay is not a dead process, it is alive with happenings. Decay is the home of transformation.
Thanks to the participating artists and our friends at CJSW!
Alëna Korolëva is an artist and curator, who works with sound, photo and video and curates programs for film festivals. Her work is focused on field recordings, acoustic ecology, soundscape studies and acousmatic composition. Based in Toronto, Canada.
Fracture Resistance is a composition combining recordings made at different times of the year on Lake Ontario in order to track and trace the shifting climate. Sounds of thinning ice emerge from cracks spreading in a curving pattern. Winter guests from the Arctic arrive: long-tailed ducks call to each other. Howling winds carry the strident voices of barn swallows, diving close to the water then disappearing into the air. The piercing sounds of military jets provide a stark contrast to an ecosystem of co-operation and accommodation. Skipping stones turn the lake into a vibrating plate. Each impact creates a flexural/bending wave, radiating sound into the air, the short waves/high frequencies arriving first. These waves track the ice’s vanishing act, a harbinger of both the new season, and the seasons already lost, as climate shifts are written in the math of disappearance.
Toto Ro Andre is a wandering storyteller and Tom Waits was recorded in studio 6 in Banff, as he embarks on Toto Tour 2.2, seeking to participate in community, facilitate magic, and record at least one song per spot. The first leg, Banff where he produced two songs : “Tom Waits” and “The Road.”
Tom Waits was produced and recorded by Jonathan Ferreira. The topic of the song is ‘waiting for time.’
Artiom Constantinov, born in Crasnaia Gorca (MDA), is a composer and sound designer based in Ferrara, Italy. Mainly working with glitch sounds, synthesis and sound deterioration on his compositions, his latest work ‘Information Disorder’ explores different techiques to generate and manipulate sound through Pure Data. Also working as a location sound recordist, sound designer and composer for films, documentaries and other media. He has a M.A. in Sound Design from Conservatory of Bologna, and a B.A. in Electronic Music from the Conservatory of Vicenza.
Information Disorder is a composition that deals with how we perceive information in the digital age, and the amount of information we have to filter to understand what is true or false. It is also a work on the deconstruction and deterioration of sound as a compositional tool.
Dixie Treichel is a sonic explorer who likes creating with any and all sounds. Her work has been heard internationally on radio, in art galleries, sound art festivals, new music concerts, theaters, film and streaming festivals.
Get Me Out of Here is a narrative about beings trapped between dimensions, sometimes in ecstasy, sometimes in agony. Trying to escape they relish when others join them. “Get Me Out of Here” is an experimental sound and radio art composition drifting through the spectrum of anticipation. (sonic treats when listening with headphones)
Eryk Salvaggio is an artist and researcher based in Rochester, NY, whose work with artificial and non-human intelligence is intended to encourage new design paradigms for an increasingly interconnected world. His website is cyberneticforests.com, where he explores intersections of nature, culture, and technological systems through art and writing.
About Zone Red One One One One One: “Mushrooms are mycelial networks which use electronic signals to communicate from one part of their body to another. For Worlding, we extended an Oyster mushroom’s networked body into the circuitry of an analog synthesizer, so that any voltage signals would trigger changes in tone, pitch, rhythm, and other sonic properties of the synthesizer’s output (in this case, it also triggered a voice synthesizer). The project is part of an installation at the Michigan State University’s Science Gallery through February 2023 where the mushrooms live within broken radios. This song was recorded from a mushroom as it was toward the end of its life cycle, appropriate to your theme of Decay.”
Lauren Wong is a sound engineer who lives in Hong Kong and likes experimental sound.
About (Don’t) Take My Breath Away: “
Does it exist?
Can you live without it?
Cherish the people and things before we lose them.
This music is about the feeling of suffocation without ‘air.'”
Lewis Kaye is a Toronto-based sound artist and media educator whose fascination with the sound of the world has led him to do some pretty weird things.
About Dogs & Bad Audio: “This piece, produced as part of the soundscape score for award winning Canadian artist Midi Onodera’s 2006 video “I Have No Memory Of My Direction”, uses source recordings made with Onodera’s failing MiniDV camera. While shooting video at an animal shelter in Japan, Onodera noticed their camera beginning to glitch, a technical failure that resulted in both unwanted visual artefacts as well as noisy and glitchy audio. Rather than dispose of this footage, Onodera chose to incorporate these images into their visual narrative. Working off of this, I chose to use the glitchy audio as source material for a soundscape composition that sought to auralize the sense of dislocation and destabilization produced by the failing camera. The composition becomes a meditation on how technical failure and decay can help produce new ways of seeing and hearing digitally mediated experience.”
About Peter Annear: “I’m an old busker. I love sound.”
“Now that my hearing is going I realise I’m watching old friends departing
I remember things that I can no longer recreate
I want to record them in my audimemory I don’t want them to go
My soundmarks are changing, my soundscape is shifting
And I don’t like it.
Can I find peace in silence when I know it may not be?
Can I rely on my old trusty microphones?
Have my speakers distorted?
Can I hear that lie in the silence?
Now that my hearing is going I realise I’m listening to the finishing of a poem.
At the start there was… indrawn air?
When that last syllable sounded was there just a little bit more breath?
I don’t know.
Now that my hearing is going I won’t know when the bowl was left unstruck,
The string was not plucked and bowed
The word was left unspoken
I don’t like it“
Thomas Grill (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna) is the project manager and principal investigator. He has ample experience in both scientific and artistic research and has been composing, performing and exhibiting with digital sound for over 20 years.
Till Bovermann (University of Applied Arts Vienna) is his main discourse partner. In his artistic works, Till addresses the relationship between seemingly contradictory elements, e.g., the digital and physical realm.
Almut Schilling (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) covers the field of preservation of electronic and digital art and will collaborate on researching the principles of degradation.
The team interacts with a pool of technologists (Marije Baalman, Martin Howse, Martin Gasser, Nadja Wallaszkovits) who provide knowledge and develop tools and experimental prototypes, and with additional international experts (Reinhold Friedl, Andreas Rauber, Mario de Vega, Erich Berger) providing input and critical feedback. Cooperation partners for workshops and presentations are the Anton Bruckner University, Linz, the V2 institute for unstable media in Rotterdam, and the Floating Sound Gallery in St. Petersburg, among others.
“Rotting Sounds – Embracing the temporal deterioration of digital audio is a project of artistic research funded by the PEEK (Programme for Arts-based Research) funding program, managed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The project AR 445-G24 is scheduled to run from May 2018 until the end of 2021.
Most of today’s media output, be it audio or video, is produced and stored in the digital domain. Although digital data are adorned by the myth of lossless transmission and migration, everyday experience does prove the existence of degradation and, ultimately, data loss in various forms. This pertains to the physical nature of storage media and playback devices as well as to media formats and software in the context of their technological infrastructure. The project strives to elaborate on the causes, mechanisms and effects of such deterioration, specifically in the context of digital audio.
Since degradation cannot be avoided on principle, it is our general aim to unearth latent degrees of freedom pertaining to the artistic practice in the omnipresence of decay.
How can degradation effects be understood, actuated, reproduced, directed and harnessed within sound art? Which are the mechanisms and implications of obsolescence concerning hard- and software? How can we model the process of decay in the digital domain, and what are its products and residues? What is the impact of the environment and human interaction? To which extent are artworks products of their material sources or their symptoms of decay?”
EARS HAVE EYES featured two works by Rotting Sounds and affiliated artists:
Dust a Bit by Klaus Filip & Thomas Grill
Voicings of an Aurelist radio play
The Worst Mankind
About The Worst Mankind: “Sound is my weapon.”
About The Day Before September:
“31st Aug. 2019. The thing that is still haunting me……”
Thank you to the artists & listeners! Special thanks to CJSW.