2011 _ 004 Urban Songline (A Vesper Songline) Latitude: 52.358054° N - 52.358134° N / Longitude: 4.879876° E - 4.879939° E - Hear It!, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL

Urban Songline created from a re-staging of Alvin Lucier' s Vespers. Transformed sounds created by the blindfolded volunteer-audience in the auditorium of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam using SONDOL' s (Sonar Dolphin echolocation devices) creating an audible version of the space.

Volunteer audience members are blindfolded and asked to navigate and map the space based on echolocation. As if they were bats or dolphins they now have to hear their way through the space and form a mental image of the landscape based on the clicking echo's in the auditorium.

The recorded mapping of the auditorium serves as the input for the Urban Songline that is created from that sound profile. This music becomes a permanent translation of its shape, a tonal transcription that will allow anyone to hear the Auditorium as apposed to occupy or observe this space.

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Part of the project Urban Songlines, a utopian/dystopian series of collaborative translations of buildings, urban structures and public spaces into music through site-specific sound-generation inspired by the tradition of the Songlines, a system for relating to-, mapping of- and caring for their land among Aboriginal Australians. These performances are a way of connecting to places by listening to them as well as a research into how we use and experience the public domain and to what degree we can claim ownership over it, discussing notions of inclusion, becoming and belonging.

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"Vespers was composed in 1968 and is performed in darkness. Each performer is supplied with a Sondol (sonar-dolphin), a hand-held echolocation device which emits a fast, sharp, narrow-beamed click whose repetition rate can be varied manually, and is given the task of orienting himself in the dark by means of scanning the environment and monitoring the relationship between the outgoing and returning pulses. When the pulse repetition rate is adjusted so that the returning echo is half-way between the outgoing pulses, an object appears to emit sound, the quality of which depends upon the material of the object itself. Moving from place to place the performer discovers clear pathways, avoids obstacles and takes slow sound photographs of his surroundings. (1)"

The created musical composition will be left behind in the room it was derived from as a musical portrait or music-map that can be listened to whenever the room is to be heard again as opposed to be seen...

(1) Source: The Sonic Arts Union via UbuWeb

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A Vesper Songline was realized with generous support from the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.


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