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We’re familiar with the sight of brutalist towers in Britain, but less well known are the strange playgrounds built at the same time, which are the inspiration for a new installation at the RIBA by the artist Simon Terrill and design collective Assemble. With their rough surfaces and dangerous drops, these surreal concrete structures were very much a product of their time.

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Seoul-based Korean artist Seokmin Ko’s photographic series The Square evokes both a peaceful sense of being at one with the world around us and a feeling of being lost. Addressing ideas of normalcy and identity, the artist holds up a giant mirror to reflect his surroundings and camouflage himself from the viewer. “We live locked by each other’s view and even our eye views sometimes serve as surveillance over each other. When individual views tamed by cultures and customs in societies aggregate and then serve for views of groups, each individual has no choice but stays as a standardized human being hiding himself or herself. Like this, under society strongly influenced by views of group, a real individual can’t co-exist… We begin to change ourselves to become ‘A normal human being.'” (via)

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BEN FROST’S SONIC ARCHITECTURE

~ Posted by Charlie McCann, November 6th 2014

Re-post from Intelligent Life- Original article click here

When the Australian composer and producer Ben Frost released his fifth album, “A U R O R A”, earlier this year the reviews were rapturous. Rolling Stone called it “unrelentingly menacing”, Drowned in Sound said it was a piece of “aural suffocation” (in a good way), and both picked it as “Best Album of the Year So Far”. Frost, though, is more low-key. His albums, he has said, are “over-glorified business cards”—adverts which get him well-paid commissions (he has written music for ballet, opera and film) and bring audiences to his live shows. He has been touring “A U R O R A” since April, and is playing six nights in Britain next week. It’s only live that you hear the album’s terrifying architecture. Listening to it on headphones is like reading a book about brutalism: it doesn’t do justice to its scale and weight.

An architect is certainly what Frost sounds like when you talk to him. When I spoke to him recently, he referred to sounds as “objects that have texture and shape”, and composing as “an arrangement of space”—which suggests his music is meant to be felt as much as heard. In August in a small south-London club, he played “A U R O R A” so loud and so deep that the audience couldn’t help but feel it. He has likened the pounding of the kick drum to “the externalisation of the human heart”. Shake your head all you like—as the drums thundered my heart hammered, and I began to wonder if it might leap out altogether. Some of the people pressed in close around me looked ecstatic, but plenty looked uneasy: the room cracked with the synthy snap of chain against metal; the air around us walloped with what felt like the weight of concrete slabs. On the small, dim stage, Frost was bent over his equipment, carefully adjusting knobs and dials—though he may as well have been operating a forklift.

In contrast to his previous albums, “A U R O R A” is more militant and synthetic-sounding: there are no guitars, piano or stringed instruments. Instead, he uses heavy percussion, synths and lots of distortion, and he processes the sounds through his computer. The result is a portentous mass of noise undergirded by simple rhythms and melodies that emerge occasionally from the aural chaos. These primarily recall the rhythms and melodies of techno, trance and industrial music, although, with a recurring bell motif and occasional brass burps, there are some classical flourishes. But this kind of music—the kind that hits you in the solar plexus—isn’t produced by simply turning up the volume. It also involves playing sub-bass sounds: frequencies so low they’re not so much sounds as they are thrums, of the kind you’ll feel if you place your hand on a subwoofer.

As PA systems grow in sophistication, musicians and sound designers are exploiting a wider range of sonic frequencies—ones that steal ever further into the realm of the physical. A range of artists—from the Seattle drone-metal band Sunn O))) to the Portland noise artist Pete Swanson and the London DJ duo Raime—have, in the last few years, been experimenting with low-end music that gets at the gut. The music magazine the Wire has called it “a live performance trend”.

But Frost thinks technology will take us further still. As absorbed as he is by music’s effects on the senses, whether aural or tactile, he’s intrigued by how advances in medical technology might improve upon our limitations. “Twenty years from now, I think we’re very likely to be able to have our ears upgraded so that we can perceive a wider range of frequencies—or by-pass the ear entirely,” he says. “I’m personally really excited about that. Every time the fucking jack cable rips out of my headphones when I stand up too quickly and I have to put it back in, there’s always this little moment where I want to jam it straight into my skull.”

Frost might be looking to the future, but he should just look at what’s right in front of him: the people at his gigs, forced to listen with their whole bodies, already have their skulls full of his music.

Ben Frost The Haunt, Brighton, Nov 10th; Thekla, Bristol, Nov 11th; Capsule, Birmingham, Nov 12th; St John at Hackney Church, London, Nov 13th; Gorilla, Manchester, Nov 14th; Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds, Nov 15th 

Charlie McCann is editorial assistant at Intelligent Life

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As I start to get a handle on Yerevan ideas are starting to be considered, circulating my daily thoughts and bouncing off different aspects of the interactions I am encountering.  One which feels quite poetic is to do with the now abandoned ErAZ Automobile Factory here in Yerevan.  Yerevanskiy Avtomobilny Zavod (ErAZ) was founded in 1964 and closed in 2002.  The reason this factory feels quite poetic is due to the flagship van th ErAZ factory produced.  The  ErAZ 762 which become widely known as the Yeraz – Dream (The ErAZ 762 was based on the RAF-977 was a Soviet (now Latvian) van made by Riga Autobus Factory (RAF). The Yeraz or Dream as it translates was an incredibly successful van and even though it has been over a decade since the factory was in business you can still see these mobile dreams roaming the streets of Yerevan and no guess the countryside of Armenia.  You also see shells of these vans everywhere I guess stripped for their parts to keep these dreams alive.  Parts are surely getting harder to find as some of the dreams are held together by any means necessary.  However like most things here in Armenia things work with little or no fuss.  People do not hesitate to get on and work with what they have.  Problems here seem to be just an everyday occurrence so people move and solve these as they do each day.  I guess without having this attitude its hard to fulfil or even attempt to reach your goals. The factory at its height was producing 12,000 a year and in 1982 produced its 100,000 vehicle.  This was partly due to the factory being equipped with a production line in 1975 one of the first in the Soviet Union.  For me the idea of a production line being created to build dreams is quite appropriate. The factory now is a shell with security watching over the vast site I guess similar to a lot of vacant land here it is owned though is currently void of any development until the owner decides what they wish to do with it.  As with all things comes down to money however we all know money cannot always buy your dreams. From the ErAZ website there is some good documentation of the legacy this factory had on Yerevan and Armenia.

The ErAZ has even made it into video games such as Grand Theft Auto! 110913-1297930735-gta-sa-2011-02-17-11-12-47-50 1355320431_gta_sa2012-12-1217-24-15-90 However the ErAZ website continues to feed my thoughts, on the English translation of the site you are greeted with this message. Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 22.16.19 I guess for some dreams we will have to wait.  In future posts I will write about some of my research into the word Yeraz as this also has some interesting links and keeps bouncing off ideas that I am considering.

DEMOLITION SCHOOL – Re-post from BLDG BLOG

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[Image: The Broelschool, Kortrijk, Belgium, via Space Caviar].

As part of the 2014 Biennale Interieur, curatorial group Space Caviar is hosting what they call a “demolition workshop” in the Belgian town of Kortrijk.

Set in a derelict school building condemned to demolition after the workshop has ended, the project aims to “construct alternative routes into and through the building, most significantly a new staircase,” and to explore new forms of improvisatory navigation through architectural space by way of “inventive deletions or modifications.”

Think of it as applied topology in the tradition of Gordon Matta-Clark.

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[Images: Some internal views of the Broelschool, via Space Caviar].

You have only a narrow window of time in which to apply to join one of two teams in the exercise, however—that is, you only have until Friday, September 5, to express interest.

To apply, send an e-mail to martina (at) spacecaviar (dot) net with the subject “Broelschool Demolition Workshop,” including your name, contact information, hometown, and professional CV or PDF portfolio, and you need to indicate which of the two teams you are hoping to join. Those teams are, and I quote:

TEAM DÉRIVE (5 people) will construct alternative routes into and through the building, most significantly a new staircase. Through sensitive and inventive deletions or modifications, this group will create shortcuts and reveal hidden aspects of the original architecture, as well as foreshadowing some of the future architectural plans for the building site. Using the building itself as a source of reusable material, the workshop will both predate the destruction and celebrate the transition of the school.

TEAM TIMELINE (5 people) will create a graphical layer on top of the existing architecture that offers a unique chronology of the domestic space over the last half-century. Blending quotes, data, diagrams, graffiti, and way-finding, the timeline will lead visitors to explore the nooks and crannies of the school in search of the steps in the story of the home.

However, in your email you must also then complete these sentences in no more than 100 words: a) My first memory of home is… b) My current home is… c) My ideal home is…

The workshop itself takes place September 23-28.

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[Image: “Splitting” (1974) by Gordon Matta-Clark, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art].

Finally, somehow tying into this event will be a “Roomba ballet” choreographed for 12 of the robotic vacuum cleaners.

Space Caviar is thus also looking for someone to choreograph that dance, so please also consider getting in touch with them if you have any ideas for how to control 12 algorithmically impulsive, semi-autonomous household appliances.


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The photography work of Sam Irons presents photographs of everyday situations and vistas but with twist.  The way the scenes are framed and composed subtract them from the world we maybe familiar with and suggest somewhere else an otherness.  These heterotopic visuals leave us to rebuild the story and context to comprehend them.  They allow us to engage with spaces that otherswise we would just digest without a second thought.  For more work please check his website here.  

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WORKSHOP DAY 8 – FINAL PROTOTYPE

Re-blogged from Sound Tectonics Blog

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The concept of the final prototype was developed around the matter of collective experience through auditory senses. The goal was to reinforce the user’s empathy and communication with space and inhabitants through emotional canals. Memory was considered to be the key element that could lead to stronger social bonds so as to reactivate the urban space as a place of interaction. Transforming the observer in to a listener and the act of listening in to an active agent of cross-fertilization, we pursuit a feedback that triggers one’s personal experience of collective awareness.

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Working  on  the  metropolitan  city  of  Athens as the  case  study, we  strategically  divided  the  city  in  layers  that  represented different  ambiences  according  to topography, built environment  and  voids, natural  elements  and  inhabitants. The analysis of each area was achived by documentation process recordings, to represent the relationships between site specificity and our final prototype of an artificial interactive environment.

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Through a critical engagement with technology, the Sound Tectonics team created an interactive environment that was build upon the idea of using one’s own experience as the influential agent that ‘organically’ emerges from the navigation of the user within the structure. Five boxes of different sizes were placed in different distances from each other, each representing one of the previously analyzed areas of the city. Their different volumes were reflecting the diverse perception of distances between the sound source and the position of the listener.

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As part of one system created and installed in an indoor space with the absence of light, the interactive environment used controlled light sources as an inviting component that attracts people to enter part of their body in each hollow box structure. Eager to become part of the experience, the visitors were triggering motion sensors that in their part, were turning the lights off to give their turn to reproduced and edited sounds of the city. In this system, light and darkness were reversely related to sound and silence. The chosen sounds were manipulated in order to expose some highlights of our city drift, incorporating the city’s ambient sounds. One’s own experience could affect the listening experience of the rest of the users. This state was noticeable only when all boxes were occupied, through reproduction of an ironic composition of sounds that suggested enforcement power contradicting with sounds of individual joy. A composition that aimed to highlight the political extend of a social gathering that is occasionally considered by police to be a threatening constitution, especially in the so-called, by some,  ’wastelands’ of the urban environment.

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The visitor’s experience was based on their physical presence in space, together with their acoustic experience. In this way we meant to isolate the senses, only to combine them again when they all reach the state of starting to experience a social assembly. Along these lines, laid one of the main notions of the project that is to force the user to re-evaluate his sensory perceptions and understand the social impact that these may have. This chain reaction contributes to the formation of an emotional state, based not only on memories, but on gathering empirical evidence of how we could effectively reconnect with spaces and people around us.

Project Team :

Tutors: Daniel Canogar, Javier Pena Galiano, Jon Goodbun, John Grzinich, Santiago Vilanova, Nota Tsekoura, Nastazia Spyropoulou, Anna Laskari, Tassos Kanelos

Participants: Ioli Belezini, Natalie Barton, Daphne Dimopoulou, Maria Galani, Yoranda Kassanou, Marirena Kladeftira, Konstantinos Kosmas, Dimitrios Mavrokefalos, Dickie Webb

Special thanks to: Konstantinos Souvatzoglou, Marilena Georgatzi, Nileta Kotsikou

Venue: The British Hellenic College -Athens

Raw sounds from Sound Tectonics workshop research could be found at:  sound tectonics soundcloud and at Radio Aporee  maps under the search : sound tectonics

Sample sound from sound tectonics field recordings:

So this week spent on Sound Tectonics is coming to an end. A week I will not forget, spent with one great team of artists, architects, sound artists, composers, theorists and just generally inspiring people. The week has been focused on discussing the relationship with sound as a material and its relationship and use within the architecture of Athens and beyond.

So today, Sunday 24th November, will see the unveiling of a prototype which encompasses some of the thoughts, skills and discoveries made these past 8 days. If you would like to come and see and meet some of those involved we will be having an opening at 6pm at the British Hellenic College here in Athens.

Please see the photo for more details of the location.

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Whilst here in Athens on the SNEHTA residency I have been introduced to a fair few local artists and creatives.  They have given me already new insights into ways to think about my current research and work.  One said conversation brought up the architect and composer Iannis Xenakis a point of this residency I will not forget as I feel quite annoyed at myself for not having heard about him before.  His architectural works and compositions are another level beyond where I am looking however to see how someone with his diverse skills and knowledge was able to do is incredible and exciting to consider where this path of work could take me.  

Here is an article written by Tom Service for The Guardian.

A guide to Iannis Xenakis’s music

The Greek composer trained as an architect, and created works of shattering visceral power that still astound today

Iannis Xenakis

‘Force of nature…’ Composer Iannis Xenakis photographed at his home in Paris, May, 2001. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

It sounds like something out of a film script. A Greek man in his early 20s fights for his homeland as part of the Communist resistance at the end of the second world war. Shrapnel from a blast from a British tank causes a horrendous facial injury that means the permanent loss of sight in one eye. He is sentenced to death after his exile to Paris (a sentence that was later commuted to a prison term, with his conviction finally quashed with the end of the junta in 1974). By the time he returns, he has become one of the leading creative figures of the century: an architect who trained, worked, and often transcended the inspiration of his mentor and boss, Le Corbusier; an intellectual whose physical and mathematical understanding of the way individual particles interact with each other and create a larger mass – atoms, birds, people, and musical notes – would produce one of the most fertile and prophetic aesthetic explorations in musical history; and above all a composer, whose craggily, joyously elemental music turned collections of pitches and rhythms and instruments into a force of nature, releasing a power that previous composers had only suggested metaphorically but which he would realise with arguably greater clarity, ferocity, intensity than any musician, before or since. This is the music of Iannis Xenakis.

When you hear Xenakis’s music – any piece of what we recognise as his mature work, starting with 1954’s Metastasis, onwards – you’re confronted with an aesthetic that seems unprecedented according to any of the frames of reference that musical works usually relate to. You won’t hear vestiges of things like familiar forms, or shapes, or languages. Even the furthest-out reaches of early 1950s serialism sound resolutely conventional next to Xenakis’s works of the same period. It’s music whose sheer, scintillating physicality creates its own territory in every piece, whether it’s for solo cello or huge orchestra. As Ben Watson has put it, Xenakis’s work is “an alien shard, glimmering in the heart of the West”. When Xenakis approached Olivier Messiaen in Paris for composition lessons, Messiaen turned him down, because, “I think one should study harmony and counterpoint. But this was a man so much out of the ordinary that I said… ‘No, you are almost 30, you have the good fortune of being Greek, of being an architect and having studied special mathematics. Take advantage of these things. Do them in your music’.”

And that’s exactly what Xenakis would do, and was already doing – which is both one explanation of his music’s shocking otherness (it was heard as “alien” even by the hipsters of the early 1950s; the 1955 premiere ofMetastasis at the Donaueschingen Festival was one of the scandals of postwar music) and a revelation of this music’s deep, primal rootedness in richer and older phenomena even than musical history: the physics and patterning of the natural world, of the stars, of gas molecules, and the proliferating possibilities of mathematical principles. Xenakis resisted the label of being a mere mathematician in music just as surely as he refused the idea of his music’s political or social message, and it was of course how he used those scientific principles (outlined in his book,Formalized Music) to create pieces of shattering visceral power.

His architectural output offers ways into his music’s imaginative world. Take the Philips Pavilion that Xenakis designed for the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958 and for which he and Edgard Varèse wrote electronic music to animate its still gorgeously futuristic-looking parabolas, swoops, curves. The maths underlying its construction, and the shapes it makes, have a direct correlation in the way Xenakis uses the instruments of the orchestra in Metastasis, organising the entries of the instruments, and the pitches they play, according to the working-out of mathematical and statistical formulae, translating the space of architectural planes into musical time. (Take a look at his near-contemporary design for a “Cosmic City”, a gloriously sci-fi vision of the metropolis of the future – and what happens when Dan Dare meets curvy brutalism.) Xenakis also designed what he called “polytopes”, high-art son-et-lumière installationsthat involved his lighting designs, his sets, his music, and his sound projection to create vivid multi-media experiences, in places from Canada to Iran to Greece. And he designed a system for the conversion of graphic stimuli into sound, a programme he called UPIC and which has now morphed into more sophisticated computer software like IanniX. (More than a decade before Boulez founded IRCAM, Xenakis had set up his own institute for music-technological research in Paris called EMAMu, which now exists as CCMIX.)

Those are some clues to the elemental concerns of his music. But what happens when you hear his music goes beyond even the sensation of teeming natural phenomena or landscapes transmuted into music. Listen to this piece – Synaphaï – for piano and orchestra. You’ll hear a piano part of mind-bending complexity, which has the unique distinction, as far as I’m aware, of having a separate stave for each finger. You did read that right: Xenakis uses 10 staves in this piece. You’ll hear clouds of minutely detailed orchestral sonority wrap around the solo part, like flocks of small birds mobbing an avaricious raptor; and you’ll hear a near-continuous rhythmic intensity and textural violence that takes your breath away. Hearing this piece is as awesome an experience as watching some life-changing natural spectacle. Synaphaï has all the teeming unpredictable power of a glacier, the thrilling complexity of shape and movement of a mass animal migration.

But there’s something else as well. This music is expressive: not in a conventionally emotional way, perhaps, but it has an ecstatic, cathartic power. Xenakis’s music – and its preternaturally brilliant performers – allows its listeners to witness seismic events close at hand, to be at the middle of a musical happening of cosmic intensity. (That’s literally true in Terratektorh, in which the orchestra perform from within the audience – it would have been fun to be part of this performance conducted by Matthias Pintscher…) Xenakis has said that his war-time experience informed his desire to create his new kind of sound-experience. (He described the play of sirens, gunfire, and spotlights in Athens in the 1940s as like a “large-scale spectacle”) Yet his music sounds, to me at least, to be purged – or perhaps to be a purging – of the sort of existential darkness that György Ligeti’s music, say, never escapes. (Among the closest Xenakis comes to a direct emotional utterance is in his Nuits for chorus; music that sounds like a primordial cry, an impassioned scream.)

There’s a huge amount to discover in Xenakis’s music, and much of his vast output is out there on YouTube. Some highlights: the non-stop dynamism of Keqrops for piano and ensemble, the epic scale of the 75-minute long Kraanerg for ensemble and tape; the dagger-like pointillism of Khoai for solo harpsichord; or the devastating virtuosity of Tetras for string quartet. The piece that converted me, though, was Jonchaies for orchestra, composed in 1977, and quite simply one of the most exciting experiences you can have in music. Listen to it as loud as you can and convert all your neighbours to Xenakis too.

Jonchaies embodies the elemental truth about all of Xenakis’s music. Beethoven described nature in the Pastoral Symphony, Sibelius was terrified by it in Tapiola, but it took Xenakis for music to become nature. On holiday in Corsica, Xenakis would pilot his canoe into the teeth of the biggest storm he and his paddle could manage. When you’re listening to his music, you also go out there into the eye of a musical storm that will invigorate, inspire, and awe. See you out there…

Here is also a video of one of his works Metastasis

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Having just arrived in Athens it is pretty exciting to see this series of workshops being organised for the middle of November.  Whilst here I have proposed to make glitched sound works sampling RAW data files of photograph spaces.  This series of workshops would be ideal for me to attend as it brings together common themes within my current practice.  It would be an exciting time to learn and meet other creatives working in similar fields and also different areas that I have not yet experienced.

Click here for website.