Concurrent examines the physicalization and spatialization of sound and the interplay that can occur between acoustic and electronic sound. The work consists of a swarm of 16 kinetic sound sculptures of varying height (40-70 cm) made of styrofoam plates, which stand on sloping wooden feet on the floor. Via a network of strings pulled over the ceiling, a round stick rests on each of the 16 flamingo plates and is pulled up and down the plates like automated puppets that either scrape or knock on the flamingo to produce a variety of acoustic sounds.
Although the sculptures have a similar expression, they are individually controlled and each creates a unique sound and its own visual expression through motorized movements on acoustic material. When the movements are initiated, the individual sculptures are transformed - from the well-known materials they are produced from - to vivid characters. While some operate from repetitions and fixed patterns, others radiate confidence with bold movements. However, there is always a risk of being interrupted and falling outside, which creates a fragility for each individual sculpture as well as in the overall system. A fragility that can also be interpreted as a form of anarchism, where the individual parts will not conform to the rules of the system. If they are allowed to exercise their cycle for an extended period of time, the materials slowly begin to decay and wear out. Thus, they form their own mini-community, where groupings of both interaction and resistance are formed and change over time.
When the installation runs autonomously, the movement sequences of the sculptures unfold in a generative way, ie. that they are based on a system of probabilities and outcomes within certain rules. Therefore, the installation also contains an element of chaos, not everything in this “sculptural society” is decided in advance, but based on some living conditions, which manifest themselves within the set conditions and which sometimes break the laws of the system.
The autonomous state is complemented by performances during the exhibition period, where sound artist Julie Østengaard enters into a live dialogue with the work. Here, the acoustic sound sculptures will play together with an electronic soundscape, which is formed from direct recordings of the sculptures. In this way, it is investigated how the composition can be shaped as an auditory dialogue, where one switches between clear auditory reflections, to distorted and fragmented echoes. The sound universe cultivates both heavy factory-like rhythms as well as complex timbral collages that draw references to both 50s musique concrete as well as modern genres such as techno and IDM (glitch). In common, however, each of the parts of the composition have an organic sounding expression that permeates the various universes that are produced in the music.
The project builds on existing studies by artists such as Harry Bertoia, Max Eastley and Zimoun, where well-known materials are transformed from their original states into vibrant acoustic soundscapes that are characterized as sound sculptures. At the same time, the project builds on these studies through the performative element and the interaction with electronic composition, which makes Concurrent both a sound sculpture and a scenographic musical instrument.
Premiered at Spor Festival 2020
Developed through Make Sound residency at Inter Arts Center
Artist: Julie Østengaard
Video by: Slow Bee Studio
Supported by: The Danish Arts Foundation, The Danish Composers Society, Inter Arts Center and Spor Festival
Special thanks to: Lukas Jonsson