Jointly presented by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) and swissnex San Francisco, Milieux Sonores: Sound and Imaginary Spaces is a collective show by the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts (ICST Zurich) and curator Marcus Maeder. A week before the exhibit closes, swissnex and GAFFTA invite two of the most radical sound art projects in the Bay Area to take the gallery by sonic storm. Infrasound (Randy Yau and Scott Arford) and Michael Gendreau explore the physicality of sound, the translation of sound into physical force, and the relationship between sound, architecture, perception, and the body.
Where the five installations in Milieux Sonores aim to give physical presence to virtual spaces, Infrasound and Michael Gendreau attempt to take sound’s raw physical power to the built environment, to play the building in which they perform, making the physical space a direct component of the art within.
With support from Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.
7:00 pm doors open
7:15 pm presentations and Q&A
8:00 pm Michael Gendreau performance
9:00 pm Infrasound performance
11:00 pm doors close
Michael Gendreau has composed and performed solo and in several groups since 1979. Crawling With Tarts (1983 – 1998) took themes from elementalism and pre-language states. He has since elaborated on these ideas while adding concepts based on his studies in physics, his philosophies pertaining to temporal and environmental persistence, and his experiments with small motors and turntable mechanisms.
His performances have involved sounds from one-off transcription discs cast by others in the middle of the last century, and those cut in his studio using a decrepit lathe. More recently, Gendreau has sought to extend these later studies, and to use buildings as speakers. He records the infrasonic vibrations of the performance space and, in concert, uses the structure’s resonances as an additional instrument in his site-specific compositions. These practices are based in part on his current work as an acoustician, working primarily on low-vibration and noise design for buildings.
Infrasound: Scott Arford and Randy Yau
Nearly a decade ago, sound artists Scott Arford and Randy Yau put forth the framework for a project that explores the complex relationship between sound, space, perception, and the body. Their Infrasound series of spatial acoustic concerts are driven by this presiding manifesto:
Hear with your body. This is not about music. This is not about performance or the performer. The goal is sound and the explicit translation of sound into physical force. The goal is internal and external realization. It is about provoking new modes of perceiving and experiencing one’s own body—triggering variable and autonomous psycho-physiological response. It is about the total acoustic sense of space—observing sound to measure the capacity of architecture. It is about the phenomenon of resonance or sympathetic vibration—all things working in one continuum.
The performance at GAFFTA is the 26th installation of Infrasound and aims to “tune” the building. By throwing frequencies out into the built space, Yau and Arford map the vibration patterns that emerge and from there compose pieces of sonic architecture that are specific to each individual space.
Scott Arford is one of the leading figures of new media arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has produced numerous works for sound and video including multichannel installations, live performances, and CD and DVD projects. He was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2005 Prix Ars Electronica. Arford has shown in numerous venues including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Dissonanze 7 in Rome, Italy, LUFF Festival in Lausanne, Switzerland, Observatori Festival in Valencia, Spain, the Sounding Festivals in Guangzhou, China and Taipei, Taiwan, and many other locations. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the College of Architecture and Design at Kansas State University in 1991.
Randy Yau is a curator, sound artist, and designer active in the sonic arts since 1993. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Peru, Australia, Taiwan, and China. He founded and co-curates Activating the Medium, an annual sonic arts festival, as well as Auscultare Research, a record label releasing sound works from artists all over the world. A former host of KPFA’s No Other Radio Network, Yau has served as Curatorial Director of 23five Incorporated since 1999 and continues to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Art and Design from Cal Poly.
Photo: Myleen Hollero