‘I am like the crawfish and advance sideways’

(Michel Foucault, 31st January 1979)


I read this quote on the front page of a really informative site around heterotopia.  Heterotopian Studies is a great site delving into depth the concept of Heterotopia.  This is an ongoing influence on the sites that i visit and engage with.  The site is written and updated by Peter Johnson.  Click here.


I go through phases of reading, I have never been a big reader of books, information yes but never whole books.  Whilst the last four years I have had to read books as part of my studies I am still no better.  Now being on an art residency where it is neither work or study I have a different desire again maybe not for whole books but I do feel an air of calm, less rush to do and time to enjoy doing.  The residency has a wee couple of bookshelves which on closer inspection have some really good books. Either someone has similar interests or the books define a time where artists like myself are engaging with similar issues.



This book by Marc Augé is one that I read parts and back to front for my dissertation.  Now its another read altogether and great to re-read parts that I have and to learn more about an area that has been informing my practice for some time.  Elements of this will allow me to bounce ideas with forthcoming sites that I consider and interact with for new sound works.  I may also try and find a book shop here in Athens where I can find some texts by Georges Perec.  I feel they would be good to read now free from writing and making work within a university setting.

I also did bring one book with me that I picked up whilst on exchange in New York whilst studying a sound art and interactive installation elective run by Liz Philips.  This was a big influence on where my thoughts have been in the last year and I hope now on this residency that I can pursue some of those ideas to a more finalised outcome.  The book has excellent texts by many different purveyors of sound music and art – Audio Culture



I will see what new books I end up reading whilst here in Athens.

The Power of Sound as an Art Form

Re-posted from New York Times Online written by ELLA DELANY for original article click here:

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s “Conflicted Phonemes” (2012) is a visual interpretation of speech from Somali asylum seekers.

Published: October 3, 2013

The sounds of Indian activists chanting and reciting poems fill Tate Modern’s Project Space in London, part of Amar Kanwar’s “A Night of Prophecy” (2002). Nearby, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s voice map, “Conflicted Phonemes” (2012), explores the influence of accent on Somali asylum seekers, offering a visual interpretation of their speech.

A still from Amar Kanwar’s “A Night of Prophecy” (2002), in which Indian activists are heard chanting poems.

The two works are part of the sound-art exhibition “Word.Sound.Power.” that, according to Tate Modern’s Web site, “takes a moment to listen to the harmony and dissonance of voices rising.”

Tate Modern is not alone in exploring art through the ears. “Sound art is having a moment right now,” Gascia Ouzounian, a lecturer at the Sonic Arts Research Center at Queen’s University Belfast, said by e-mail. “A wave of recent exhibitions has very much brought sound art to the attention of the wider public.”

That attention was captured with the opening in August of “Soundings: A Contemporary Score,” the first-ever major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York dedicated to sound art. But the form is gaining prominence and acceptance in museums and galleries around the world, with the success of SoundFjord, a London gallery dedicated exclusively to sonic exhibitions and research; the exhibition “RPM: Sound Art China” traveling to Shanghai from Hamilton, New York, in October; and a slew of recent exhibitions in locations as diverse as Hong Kong, Paris and Karlsruhe, Germany.

“Artists brought sound into their work a long time ago,” Barbara London, the curator of the “Soundings” show at the Museum of Modern Art, explained, “yet working with the ‘material’ of sound as an art form and its conceptualization has recently expanded dramatically.”

The phenomenon is not limited to the United States. “In New York, as well as Stockholm, London, Milan, Kobe, Melbourne and Delhi, art centers known as “alternative spaces” emerged and for decades have supported the evolving sonic arts,” Ms. London said. “Sound art is a global phenomenon.”

Sound is at the heart of Dajuin Yao’s, work. He is based in Hangzhou, China. “China is one of the noisiest countries in the world,” Mr. Yao said, “and ‘sound art’ plays a very crucial and ironic role in the society here.” In “Garden of Buddhahood,” a piece by Mr. Yao, the audience walks between lotus lamps that play recordings of monks chanting. It is, the artist said, a subconscious tribute to Steve Reich’s celebrated “Come Out”— which uses a single source, a recording of Daniel Hamm, injured in the Harlem riots of 1964.

According to research by Seth Cluett of Princeton University, there were 128 sound art exhibitions in museums worldwide from 2000 to 2009, up from just 21 from 1970 to 1979; and Ms. Ouzounian said that over the past four years the number of sound art exhibitions has continued to rise rapidly. That expansion can, in many ways, be attributed to advances in technology, but also to a desire to push the boundaries of art.

In an international art world dominated by visual works, sound has long been perceived as a challenging and esoteric medium. Traditionally, the term has been used to describe works by artists who choose sound or hearing as a topic or medium, generally without musical notations or musicians to interpret. As far back as 1913, the Italian Futurist Luigi Rusollo wrote a manifesto titled “The Art of Noises,” in which he described the modern urban soundscape and its musicality.

Many artists and curators today have opted for a more flexible definition of the art form, rejecting experimental music or composition as a requisite but allowing for strong visual or conceptual components. In some cases, sound art has no aural elements at all. At the Museum of Modern Art, for instance, some exhibits, like Camille Norment’s “Triplight” are silent. That piece features an excavated, brightly lit 1955 Shure microphone that casts a pattern of flickering shadows.

Haroon Mirza, a London-based artist who was awarded the Silver Lion at the 54th Venice Biennale for his installations “Sick” and “The National Apvailion of Then and Now,” suggests these flexible boundaries can mask a superficial disdain from the visual art world toward sound. “I think the art world sometimes likes to take the easy option,” Mr. Mirza said.

Mr. Mirza warned that the recent interest in sound art may be of limited duration. “I would argue that the interest in sound art is more of a fad partly related to the 100th birthday of John Cage last year,” he said. Cage challenged conventional definitions of music, and his “4:33,” a work of silence, was considered by many to be more a philosophical statement than a musical composition.

Even at institutions of higher learning with a history of fairly traditional approaches to the arts, sound has made its way onto the curriculum. Columbia University in New York began offering this autumn a master’s degree in Sound Art, a joint program of its department of music and its school of the arts. Degrees in sound art are also available at the University of Brighton in England; at the Nordic Sound Art Program, which offers a master’s degree in partnership with various institutions in Scandinavia, and the Sonic Arts Research Center in Belfast, among others.

While sound-recording technology has been around for over a century, innovations continue to open fresh avenues of artistic exploration. For “Voice,” one of the pieces at the “Word. Sound. Power.” show at Tate Modern, for instance, the French-Norwegian artist Caroline Bergvall used a transducer that transforms the surface it is placed on into an output speaker. “Placed on my entrance window,” she said, “the viewer walks through a relocated voice. This technology was not available even a few years ago.”

“We now see artists making use of new technologies including multichannel audio systems, computer-programming software, and computer-mediated sound spatialization, for example in installations by the French artist Cédric Maridet,” said Yang Yeung, a Hong Kong-based curator and the founder of an organization calledSoundpocket.

Even a mobile phone can become a creative force. Surabhi Saraf, an Indian sound artist and performer, attaches a tiny stereo microphone to hers. Ms. Saraf’s “Grains,” shown at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in May, explored the idea of a single grain of sound. Layers of Ms. Saraf’s vocals were combined with recordings of trickling grains, and the auditory experience was enhanced by live image projections.

The growing affordability of recording devices, combined with innovative new technologies, has helped sound become an increasingly entrenched part of the gallery and museum world, Ms. Bergvall said.

While some works consist of a simple file in MP3 format, installations can pose unique challenges for buyers and curators, as they can incorporate complex technological or gargantuan sculptural elements. Many museums and galleries remain wary of the medium because sound is deemed more intrusive than a sculpture or painting.

So far, neither Christie’s nor Sotheby’s has sold a work of sound art. But Benjamin Godsill, a contemporary art specialist at the auction house Phillips, sees strong potential for the sale of works featuring sound to private buyers. “The market has a tremendous ability to take the avant garde and find sellable items within it,” he said.

The Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard has sold installations, images and recordings of his work. “It is possible to change and adapt works of sound for different spaces,” Mr. Kirkegaard pointed out. “If you ask me, a sound art piece can be many things; photos, objects or things that only sound occasionally, or very, very quietly.”

In 2008, Mr. Kirkegaard sold four photos of the recording sites of his installation “Aion,” now at the Museum of Modern Art, to a private buyer. “Aion” features recordings created in abandoned spaces in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

If the visual art world continues to turn toward sound, more sales and commissions could follow — especially if sound artists are willing to adapt their works to different spaces. “I do hope that artists who are less known within the mainstream visual art world, but who have been influential within sound art will find increasingly sustained support,” Ms. Ouzounian said, mentioning the works of artists like Anna Friz, Christina Kubisch and Kaffe Matthews.

Still, it seems for many artists, sales are not the ultimate goal. “A lot of sound art is not made from an intention to be sold,” Ms. Saraf said. “It is more about the act of listening and experiencing the space in relation to the sound.”

Whilst I deliberate about packing my bags which seems like the only thing I have done in the past three weeks, I came across this Q and A with the writer Chuck Palahniuk on Reddit.  It struck a chord as I feel it is something I have done especially with past sculptural works.  I certainly can see a similarity on how a certain idea or interest can drive you nuts.

To begin a new novel, I look for the biggest problem in my life that I can’t solve or tolerate. Something that drives me nuts, but I can’t fix. Then I find a metaphor that allows me to explore the problem, exaggerating and expanding it beyond reason. I build it up to the worst scenario possible and then find a way to solve it. By the time the book is done, I’ve exhausted all of my emotions around the original problem. Whatever it was, it no longer bothers me. And typically, during the time of writing, the problem has resolved itself. It’s like magic. Try it. It will keep you alive in this world of bullshit.

If you would like to read any more of the Q and A then here is the full manuscript HERE

Having spent most of my 20’s in the mountains teaching and snowboarding.  I am often asked why I do not make work about my time in the mountains.  I hesitate to say never but rather see it as an obvious response to my life so far and could mean I only address experiences that have been.  Whilst working deeper I guess artwork is more like therapy working with ideas that are past the obvious and everyday and have less definitive conclusions.  However though I do not make works about the mountains I am intrigued when I see other artists work within this geography.  Currently Olivo Barbieri has an exhibition opening in New York at YANCEY RICHARDSON GALLERY.  This exhibition presents aerial photographs of climbers in the Alps.  These otherworldly photographs provide a different perspective, portraying the miniature scale of the individuals against the vast size of the Alps.

Olivo Barbieri: Alps – Geographies and People

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Olivos’ choice of palette  increases the viewers experience of these images.

The subject of ʻAlps – Geographies and Peopleʼ is how the mountain is perceived from the climbersʼ point of view – its peaks and precipices, the mirages and hallucinations in its geography. In these images, everything is true. The proportions and the forms are real. Even the people and the position theyʼre in…those, too, are real.” Olivo Barbieri

Barbieris’ use of photography to capture the different spaces is unique.  Looking at other projects expands on Barbieris’ selection process through the lens and editing.  Works below are from Cities creates new understandings of urban spaces and draws a nice link between the naturals environment and the urban sprawl.  By using the same medium but highlighting various parts of those landscapes can magnify out existence within.
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Bringing me back to how my time spent working out doors and to another extent travelling could impact on my practice.  It is interesting that Barbieri links places that I have been and my working life have taken me to.  Another artist who also brings similar questions to the table is Alex Hartley and his climbing routes specifically his LA Climbs book.

4106AXKDHBL_SS500_jpg ArcoPlaza


It is motivating and reassuring to see artists combining their outdoor knowledge and passion within their practice.  I guess I will continue to not rule out working within the mountains I spend so much of my time.  It will probably happen when I am not aware or when a period of research leads me there.

01_cover daan roosegaarde_popup

I while back I came across some work by Daan Roosegaarde.  The book is a must for those that are at all interested in interactive installations.  The inventiveness of Roosegaardes practice is truly original.  I would like to suggest favourite parts to the book but rather will suggest just reading it from cover to cover.  Here is a link to his website as well click

I handed my dissertation in a couple of weeks ago and then jumped a flight to Austria to escape in the mountains for a week.  This week left me considering where I currently am.  This research has allowed me to reconsider and evaluate future process and attention.  Though as yet it is still not clear as to what or how exactly I will be stepping forth.

Areas that have be highlighted within this period of research are:

Liminal space and more importantly within this blurred area the idea of heterotopias existing or being present within liminality.

Within the abandoned spaces, the awareness that these spaces are both liminal yet relative.  It is this juxtaposition that highlights the potential being present.  

The idea of what that has gone or lost since the inactivity.  Yet what has appeared or has been gained in an abandoned space.

Understanding that within physical spaces, creativity can undermine the relativity of this dimensional space.  A once certain space can become fluid and contain more than once conceived.

The drifting between that which you understand and that which questions.  The ability to comprehend that some spaces clearly exist within the real whilst at times are operating within the virtual.

I am currently mulling these ideas over as I now look to experiment more and realise some works that have been brewing through this period of time.  I am currently collaborating with Urban Abandonment Projekt –  Through this site specific project I hope to respond to abandoned spaces with ambient interventions.  Drawing on the immense sensations that can occur within spaces that have been lost to society.  I am also working on studio based work that will experiment with ideas about space outlined in my dissertation as well as elements that I feel need to be brought back from these abandoned spaces.  These feelings from abandoned spaces accompanied with liminal and physical spaces intentionally become metaphors for larger themes outside of this focused paper.

overhead flume tiff 1

Current works are exploring data bending with images collected from empty spaces such as waterworld in Leith.  Creating soundscapes from the raw data image files and then in turn creating abstracted images of the once thriving swimming pool.  Another project which is in the early stages is an installation work based within an old POW camp called Cultybraggan.  This will be installed for an open weekend at the camp first weekend in June.

The research will continue as new questions arise.  Thanks for those that have been responding to posts and adding input or links to this idea of a potential being held within a disremembered space.