Last February I carried out a residency at Studio I in STEIM. It was a fantastic opportunity which I´m grateful to STEIM for. Within this residency I worked in developing further a project I´ve been working on for some time, entitled Greifen.
Greifen is a multiple-instance project for violin and diverse sound reproducing media. Its three main instances consist of: a performative work for violin and 5 channel soundtrack, a sound installation for a specifically devised multiple-loudspeaker setup, and an audio streaming website. Other instances may spring from the core of the project in the future, all constituing themselves as diverse forms of dealing with the same main material and problematics. The work is dedicated and composed for violinist Ekkehard Windrich.
The main aim of my residency in STEIM was the development of the sound installation instance of the project, through the study for the design of the particular multiple loudspeaker setup.
Greifen (to grasp, understand, get hold of) deals with the conditions that shape sound perception in our media-saturated culture, through focusing on the sensitive components inherent in the practices and technologies of sound reproduction media. Within our sound environment, we are probably more frequently exposed to the sound of recorded violins than to the direct acoustic impression of a violin. We are constantly exposed to material impressions of the sound production devices and the diverse steps involved in the process of sound production, including the spatial renderings arising from diverse loudspeaker systems. Our listening is populated by memories inherent in the way the tools themselves deploy sound, memories which reciprocally constitute the conditions we use to grasp sound around us.
Greifen tackles the ambiguous blur between medium and source, the physical conditions of our interaction with the sound production device (the loudspeakers) and the affective and signifying implications of those material characteristics which populate the circulation of media.
This is dealt with in the installation by superimposing a series of diverse loudspeaker constellations and loudspeaker types. Each layer enhances the particular material qualities of the loudspeaker and their relationship with the acoustic circumstance, each combination of loudspeakers establishing a particular spatial materialization in relationship to a (moving) listener.
During the residency we recorded extra material with violinist Ekkehard Windrich, which was to be added to material we had previously recorded. This recording was carried out with a set of differing stereo configurations using diverse microphone types.
After this first step, I started to work on setting up a 16 channel system utilizing a gamut of diverse loudspeaker types (several of them part of STEIM´s resevoir) in diverse placement and relationships to the physical space of the studio, together with a set of un-enclosed loudspeaker drivers of diverse kinds and size. These were set up in diverse layers including a 4-channel equidistant system using conventional p.a. loudspeakers, a pair of studio monitors which were located in an elevated position and creating a reflected front by projecting towards the ceiling, diverse versions of indirect sound fronts created by loudspeakers projecting into diverse wall combinations and diverse geometrical superimpositions (on the horizontal and vertical axys) of arrays of loudspeakers drivers. The loudspeaker drivers included full range 5-inch drivers, as well as diverse type of lo-fi midrange woofers and piezo horn tweeters.
One of the main outcomes of this exploration was the relevance in the way these setups relate to particular “hearing dispositions” that conform to habitual practices of sound projection. Noticeable differences not only arose at subtle variations in acoustic results arising from superimposing the same (or similar) sound signals through diverse loudspeakers or loudspeaker constellations, but rather substantially on the superimposition of particular habits of listening attached to these distributions.
Furthermore, the physical, personal interaction of the moving listener proved significant. The reduced space of the studio and controlled (dry) environment reinforced the slight difference and almost tactile sensitivity arising from small movements and shifts of the listening position in space. Particular frequency response, distortion artefacts and projection patterns differences got articulated in enhancing a blur between what was apprehended as a recorded instance (representation) and what was perceived as an excitation of the room´s acoustic characteristics.
The residency meant a big advance in the development of Greifen, for this kind of development would have been quite difficult without the opportunity to devote this kind of intensive time on the studio.
The Greifen project has received support from the Nederlands Fonds voor Podiumkunsten and is meant to be presented publicly within the upcoming season.
Thanks again to STEIM for giving me the possibility to work in such a great place.