Sonic Space

Performance, 19 April 2016
Synthesizers and various electronics

The duo performance of Chris Abrahams and Burkhard Beins is informed by a reductionist aesthetic of sound as industrial noise. Abrahams plays a synthesizer while Beins uses an elaborate circuit of small analog synthesizers, loopers and custom-made electronics. With insistent pulsations that never lapse into a steady beat, the performance’s textured noise effects and dynamic shifts oscillate between wild abandon and purposeful determination.

Chris Abrahams is a Sydney-based keyboardist, best known for his work in free jazz. He has been a member of the Benders, Laughing Clowns, The Sparklers and The Necks, and worked with artists such as The Church, The Whitlams, Midnight Oil, Wendy Matthews, Skunkhour and Silverchair. His work on the soundtrack for the film ‘The Tender Hook’ was nominated for the ‘Best Original Music Score’ AFI Award in 2008.

Burkhard Beins is best known as one of the most distinctive percussionists in European free music. He is also a composer and sound artist who works with found objects and electronics. His work often combines field recordings, percussion material and electronic devices with digital multitracking. A member of ensembles such as Perlonex, Activity Center, Polwechsel and Phosphor, he also works with Keith Rowe, Sven-Åke Johansson, John Tilbury and Charlemagne Palestine.

Burkhard Beins' synthesizer setup.
Burkhard Beins’ pre-performance setup.

April 19, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

‘AVVA: ideomotoric chatroom’, 7 September 2016
Performance with no-input mixing desk, electronics, e-bass and video

A wild juxtaposition of barely audible white noise and massive walls of brutal sound over an abstract canvas, the ‘AVVA: ideomotoric chatroom’ is a live video and sound art performance inspired by the idea of the ideomotor reflex and basic patterns of seemingly automatic, unconscious and random (re)actions. Toshimaru Nakamura and Billy Roisz interact physically to enact sonic structures in an ideomotor feedback loop whose internal architecture is made visible through video projections. The result is an unpredictable fusion of playfulness and precision in a complex yet minimal aesthetic.

Toshimaru Nakamura is one of the most well-known proponents of Japan’s thriving sound art community. His medium is the no-input mixing board, which describes a way of using a standard mixing board as an electronic music instrument, producing sound without any external audio input. The unpredictability of the instrument requires an attitude of obedience and resignation to the system and the sounds it produces, bringing a high level of indeterminacy and surprise to the music.

Billy Roisz is known for her work in the translation of experimental sounds into visual memory images, revealing borrowings from minimal art and conceptual art. She specializes in feedback video and video/sound interaction by using monitors, cameras, video mixingdesks, synchronators, computer, various electronics and a bass guitar for video and sound generation. Her participation in the performance was sponsored by the Federal Chancellery of Austria.

September 7, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

Performance, 7 September 2016
‘Alive Painting’ and electronics

Akiko Nakayama and Korhan Erel explore the interrelationship of the visual and the aural in a spontaneous, multimedia performance. The collaboration is a combination of Nakayama’s ‘Alive Painting’ method, in which she manipulates liquids and projects them onto a screen in real time, and Erel’s improvisational approach to conceptual sound art. Together, the two assimilate the differing qualities of vitality in visual and aural phenomena – the movement of lines and rhythms, intensities and amplitudes, shades of color and timbre – in order to reflect on the ideal of fine art as living abstraction.

Alive Painting

Akiko Nakayama is a visual artist interested in the idea of energy metamorphosis in various media, including installation, photography and performance. Combining the energy of movement and the vibrance of colors, she brings pictures to life in ‘Alive Painting’ by depicting the resonance between shapes and textures through the use of different types of liquids, each with a unique characteristic. In recent years she is energetically engaged in performing ‘Alive Painting’ in solo and collaborative work at festivals and gatherings such as ARS ELECTORONICA (2016), TEDxHaneda (2015) and Takamatsu Media Art Festival (2015).

Korhan Erel is a sound artist and designer based in Berlin. He makes frequent use of field recordings or found sounds in his free improvisations, conceptual sound performances as well as structured and composed pieces, the latter mainly performed at art events and museums in Europe. He also does sound design and music for theater, video and dance. His collaboration ‘The Threshold’ with Sydney-based video artist Fabian Astore has won the Blake Prize in Australia (2012). He has done three residencies at STEIM in Amsterdam on sensors and instrument design and was a guest composer at the Electronic Music Studios in Stockholm (2011).

Akiko Nakayama

Akiko Nakayama (top) and Korhan Erel (bottom) in performance. Photos: Yu Tang

September 7, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

‘Light Bulb Music’, 23 June 2016
Performance with light bulbs and electronic devices

Light transforms into sound with ‘Light Bulb Music’, an audiovisual performance using sounds that are generated by different light bulbs and actuating electric devices. The use of different controllers such as switches, dimmers, relays, flashers and various others leads to changes in the light and the current flow. This is made audible by a range of microphones and pick-ups. In addition, fine mechanical sounds occurring inside the light controllers are amplified and integrated into the performance. The changes in the light intensity, the incandescence of the filaments and the rhythmic variety of the flickering and pulsing lights is directly transformed into a comprehensive and microcosmic electro-acoustic world of sound.

Photo: Raquel Olivas

Michael Vorfeld is a sound and visual artist based in Berlin. In addition to photography and film, he realises installations and performances with light and electro-acoustic sound pieces. His installations generally focus on the spatialization of light, using minimalist architecture and sound design to attain pure, crystalline shapes. His performances are centered on the use of bowed cymbals and self-designed string instruments to create shimmering, microtonal music rich in overtones. His work has been documented mainly by the German label NURNICHTNUR, but also on Hybrid, AufRhur, X-Tract, and Trente Oiseaux.

June 23, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

‘Frost’, 17 June 2015
Live recording with percussion, trumpet, seashell, e-guitar and electronics

Legendary percussionist Sven-Åke Johansson’s performance with Liz Allbee on trumpet and seashell and Annette Krebs on guitar and electronics, recorded live at Geoff Stern Art Space. A central figure in European improvised music and avant-garde art, Johansson (b. 1943 in Mariestad, Sweden) moved to Berlin in the late 1960s and became involved in the Zodiak Free Arts Lab on Hallesches Ufer.

Influenced by the Fluxus movement, Johansson’s early deconstruction of jazz percussion and free improvisation in the context of various artistic fields is a forerunner to the Echtzeitmusik scene that emerged in the 1990s in Berlin. His performances explore the relics of modernism through the use of quotidian materials such as cardboard and foam, questioning the boundaries between music and sound, abstract structure and tangible materiality, art and everyday life.

The entire performance is available for purchase as LP and digital download on Bandcamp. Portions of the performance were also filmed for the final concert sequence in director Antoine Prum’s documentary ‘Blue for a Moment’, a retrospective on Johansson’s artistic career.

Sven-Åke Johansson
Sven-Åke Johansson
Sven-Åke Johansson
Sven-Åke Johansson performing live in Poznan, 1986.
Photos: Janusz Kostrzewski

June 17, 2015 current sound art, Sound Art

AFTERBURNER, 23 June 2016
Performance with voice, electronics and light projections

AFTERBURNER, a collaborative project of vocalist Audrey Chen and electronic artist Doron Sadja, blends together the organic and the electronic to reveal amorphous sounds that suggest an almost Lovecraftian ambience of mutant moans, growls, chirps and howls. Chen’s vocalisations sometimes disrupt and at other times melt into Sadja’s synthetic textures in a trance-like manner to evoke a primordial modernity.

Audrey Chen uses cello, voice and analog electronics to delve deeply into her own version of narrative and non-linear storytelling. A large component of her work is improvised and her approach is personal and visceral. In her performances she explores the combination and layering of traditional and extended techniques in both the voice and cello with the possibilities of the analog synthesizer. She works to join these elements into a singular ecstatic personal language.

Doron Sadja is an artist, composer, and curator whose work explores modes of perception and the experience of sound, light, and space. Often working with multichannel spatialized sound, smoke machines, and high intensity lights, Sadja combines pristine electronics with lush romantic synthesizers, dense noise, and immersive light projections to create hyper-emotive sonic architecture. Sadja founded Shinkoyo Records and the West Nile performance space in Brooklyn (RIP), and currently runs the Sound Portraits lecture/listening series at Spektrum.

June 23, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

Performance, 23 June 2016
Modular synthesizer, voice and electronics

Ferocious, delirious, even rabid – none of these words comes close to describing the unbridled energy of the free improvisations by Richard Scott and Tomomi Adachi. Their collaboration is characterized by a deliberate and finely detailed chaos that consists of feedback, disruptions and extremes of frequency and amplitude. The resultant swarms of noise assault, overwhelm and finally liberate the listener from all preconceived notions of the extremes and limits of sound art.

Richard Scott is a sound artist and electroacoustic composer. His primary interest is in free improvisation and the artistic possibilities of electronics, including modular synthesizers and controllers such as the Buchla Thunder and Lightning and his own self-designed WiGi infrared controller developed at STEIM in Amsterdam. He studied free improvisation in the 1980s with John Stevens, saxophone with Elton Dean and Steve Lacy, and electroacoustic composition with David Berezan and Ricardo Climent.

Tomomi Adachi is a sound and visual artist, performer, poet and instrument builder. His works incorporate a wide range of materials: self-made physical interfaces and instruments, brainwave, artificial satellite, twitter texts and even paranormal phenomena. Known for his versatile style, he has performed and presented his work for voice and electronics, sound poetry and improvisations at the Tate Modern, Maerzmusik, Centre Pompidou, Poesiefestival Berlin and Walker Art Center. In 2012 he was a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD.

June 23, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

NOT ON THE GUEST LIST! 19 April 2016
Performance with voice, drums and gongs

A clash between vocal acrobatics and virtuosic drumming, NOT ON THE GUEST LIST! is an explosive cocktail of rhythmic noise by the wife-and-husband team of Natalie Sandtorv and Ole Mofjell. Their performance entails a palpable mixture of competition as well as collaboration – the human voice wrestles the drum kit for the title of most percussive instrument and ultimately emerges victorious.

Natalie Sandtorv
 Ole Mofjell
Photos: Raquel Olivas

Natalie Sandtorv (b. 1988 in Ålesund, Norway) is a versatile vocalist who takes an organic, genre-bending approach to using the human voice in acoustic environments and in combination with electronics. Having studied music performance at the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen, Sandtorv is also active as a jazz and pop musician and recently released her second solo album Freedom Nation under the label Øra Fonogram.

Ole Mofjell (b. 1990 in Søgne, Norway) is a percussionist who regularly performs in ensembles such as Brute Force and COKKO. Since completing his studies in the Jazz program at the Trondheim Musikkonsevatorium, he has performed throughout Europe in various projects and collaborations with artists, including Erik Kimestad Pedersen, Rob Void 3.0 and Nypan.

April 19, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

Performance, 19 April 2016
Prepared clavinet/pianet

In her performance on the clavinet/pianet, an electric piano from the 1960s with strings and metal chimes, Magda Mayas engages with the visceral sound materials of the instrument, expanding the instrumental sound palette using extended techniques and devices. In the tradition of Cage, Mayas uses preparations and objects in the interior and exterior parts of the piano to explore textural, linear and fast moving sound collages.

Magda Mayas has performed at festivals and exhibitions such as Maerz Musik (2012 and 2015), Documenta (2012) and Berlin Biennale (2014). She also produces radio pieces for ABC Australia and Deutschlandradio Kultur and has released 20 CDs to date. Currently she is undertaking doctoral studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and investigating extended instrumental techniques, spectral music and psychoacoustics in an improvised music context.

April 19, 2016 current sound art, Sound Art

Performance, 16 July 2015
Liz Allbee – trumpets
Olaf Hochherz – synthesizer
Ute Wassermann – voice and bird whistles
Felicity Mangan – field recordings

On a beautiful warm summer evening, AnimalNacht, a project of four artists exploring the mimesis and play back of animal sounds through voice, instrument, computer music and field recordings, performed in the sculpture garden of the gallery, beneath André Tempel’s hanging installation ‘BBBB’ in front of a large audience after dark. Olaf Hochherz (synthesizer) and Felicity Mangan (field recordings) performed stationary in their personally chosen spots in the garden, out of site of one another, their sounds being projected through small monitors hidden in the vegetation, whilst Ute Wassermann (voice and bird whistles) and Liz Allbee (trumpets) moved slowly around the garden, working their way through the vegetation and the audience.

ANIMALNACHT twilight (crop 1, web)

July 16, 2015 current sound art, Sound Art

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