Audio Art 2011 Installations – Kraków

December 27th, 2011  |  Published in art, reviews, sound  |  1 Comment

Zimoun (Bern) – 45 prepared dc-motors, cotton balls, cardboard boxes 60x60x60cm

Nov. 18, 2011

Krystafory, Kraków

Any piece is affected by the space it inhabits and I felt that the ambiance and size of the Krystafory basement was pretty fantastic combined with the architecturally-minded (his words) elements.  I felt the juxtaposition of the typical medieval Kraków basement and this modern sculpture left much for the imagination.  I love the idea of this piece and when I listened to it for a little bit I realized the patter has a very organic effect because it reminds me of rain or something I may have heard on tv like an avalanche or cavalry of horses.  He’s creating an organic cluster through the repetition of very dialed in motors – an insane beat of sorts.  I found it very soothing and was able to stay with it.  Unlike many installations, this piece speaks for itself fairly well on video.

After a bit, I found myself longing for more frequencies in the sonic space.  Mainly because visually there was a hint to expect it.  The boxes being more forward and more backward didn’t really do much in the way of pitch and I started to wonder what it would sound like if the balls and/or boxes varied in size.  Of course this would affect the visual aesthetic of the piece and change it.  One of the wonderful things this piece brings is the tension between the repetitive elements (size of boxes and balls) and the seemingly randomly chosen ones (motor speeds and z-axis placement of the boxes).  Another idea would be to put something inside the boxes to change the tone, but that might dampen the resonance of the box too much.  Yet another silly take would be to put the motors inside the box but again vary their size.  Then the boxes would look less interesting but our imaginations would run wild with what is in the box.


SoundLoom – Chaotic Pendulum

Nov. 18, 2011

Bunkier Sztuki

Admittedly, I didn’t connect with this piece.  With all interactive pieces I really try to understand the concept without getting into the nitty gritty of the technology.  I found the visual aesthetic to be pretty off-putting as well as the sounds.  I guess there’s something to being annoyed by a piece – modern art is supposed to challenge us ; ).  It was a collaborative effort by Franciszek Araszkiewicz and Peter Sych and I wonder what kind of compromises where made.  The whole thing is based on a lazer harp that Sych created which was also used for the IterEterIntern installation which I didn’t have a chance to checkout.  The pendulum would squiggle around as the late-80s-style (or mid-2000s?) machine emitted digital sounds reminiscent of an angry teenage robot.  I heard it almost every day for the duration of the festival.  In my opinion it was poorly placed in a corridor very close to the performance space and there were a few performances it crept into.  I did worry I would hear it during my own performance.  Of course neither of those factors are necessarily the artist’s fault and may have not even been Marek Chołoniewski’s fault as I know the festival was operating on very limited space.

One night I was sitting out in the corridor because I needed a break from the crowds inside the performance space and I started to play around with the pendulum while the piece was turned off.   I finally had a positive moment with this piece.  It was quite pleasurable to watch the pendulum spinning around with its irregular patterns and sometime-deceiving momentum.  That’s it.  I wish more emphasis had been put on that because that really was the most interesting aspect of the piece  –  the pendulum’s ability to seemingly gain momentum over time.  Sonically, there could have been a much clearer connection to the intriguing physics of the pendulum.


Esther Venrooy/Ema Bonifacic (Ghent, Venice) – A shadow of a wall 

Nov. 18th, 2011

Bunkier Sztuki

Due to the placement of this piece it developed a humorous relationship to Chaotic Pendulum.  Unaware, people would walk right past the tepid sine tones of this piece to crowd around Chaotic Pendulum since that piece punctuated the space.  I thought this was one of the most interesting aspects of this piece.  It was extremely large and emitted continuous sound but participants were often unaware that is was something placed in the space rather than a part of the space.  I read about it and it said you could lay on previous iterations of it but I never did because I wasn’t sure if I could.  Now I really wish I had, if not just to draw more attention to the piece.  I didn’t understand the trajectory of the sound but it seemed to get more complex as the days passed and I really enjoyed that.  This could have been my own imaginative concoction.  Aesthetically I guess I wish it had been more like it’s title, something where you couldn’t see the beams and separate pieces but rather a wall that was continuous.  Having built installations myself I realize there are always physical limitations to material and space.  I did enjoy the tones very much and that they varied day by day.


Paul Devens – City Chase

Nov. 19th, 2011


I have always fantasized about little speakers that move.  I would love some that just float around my head at perfect angles to my ears.  This piece reminded me of that.  Paul Devens creates a sonic space incredibly rich with movement and drift inside the Kathedra Gallery.  The space is perfect for the piece and contributed greatly to my experience of it.  Industrial, but relatively clean, high ceilings, nice light, lots of room for your imagination to float around.  Paul built these benches that run the length of the piece so you can locate yourself in different proximity to the speakers.  You can also lay down which was nice since I had a long night.  The piece is not interactive rather a composition created from the sounds he collected while in movement on his bicycle.  It sounded like many of the sounds were collected close to the Rynek (town square) and I loved the displacement of the sounds since we were in an industrial neighborhood removed and across the river.  A place that had a very different soundscape then the one represented by his piece.

One of the most captivating sounds was that of the trolleys.  I have been fascinated by these sounds myself and hope to record some soon, but he took it to the next level with this piece by recording moving sounds while in motion and then playing them back with movement.  This creates incredible dynamism and life and created a new sense of temporality.  The recordings were of good quality and they translated well on those speakers.   I have to put my two sense into this now by saying the only thing that would make this piece even better would be to build some sort of structure in addition to the bench and speaker rails that hides the sub and the computer.  I think it would be nice also if the piece was on a permanent loop with a bit of silence in between (1 or 2 min) rather than having the attendant “start” the piece for us.  Her doing that added a performative element that I am guessing is not intentional (I am often very wrong on these things tho).  These two suggestions would make the piece completely “clean” and that would please me.  I feel that the artist’s aesthetic points in that direction also.


Jonáš Zeleninský – Sonodump

Nov. 22, 2011

Bunkier Sztuki 

It’s difficult to separate my feelings for Jonáš from this piece.  He is a very promising artist that I’ve recently had the pleasure to befriend.  The installation featured in the link above is different from the performance that happened that night.  In a sense the installation is the leftover or the result of his performance which I think is an excellent way to bridge the two happenings.  His performance was a surprise and perhaps I’ll discuss it here rather than writing separate up.  I am in the company of many artists who like to suspend themselves in this space “between”; wondering if what they do is performance or installation.  I recall talking to Jonáš previous to the event and he had the same question about his own piece.  I felt that his solution was compelling.

His performance consisted of him creating the installation before us.  He used a welding iron in front of the audience which I felt was a pretty ballsy (if not foolish) move considering you can blind someone.  The light emitted from it was super intense and the sound blended in a odd way with that of the wireless signals he was digitally translating and emitting from his laptop.  During the performance he was only able to weld the one side of his pyramid, the other side didn’t work.  Pretty human.  Both the performance and the piece ended up anti-climactic but sonically I think Sonodump satisfies – the crunchy bit-compressed sounds create interesting beats and patterns.  To me the struggle with the metal ended up having a variety of symbolic meanings and I feel like the human struggle and anti-climactic aspect worked for him in the performance – a representation of the futility of our efforts and maybe even of creating installation art.

As for the installation the presentation of this sonic occurrence was not the best.  The laptop and pyramid looked a little sad on the corridor floor of the Bunkier.  If there was a relationship visually (perhaps repeating text that actually tells you what is happening) on the screen of the computer the piece would feel more complete.  Anyone who didn’t read the explanation of the piece would have no idea what’s going on.  I see that the pyramid could be like an antennae of the wi-fi signal but the symbolic gesture and the actual technology of this piece seem separate from each other.  Obviously that’s forgivable since the same is true for a lot of other pieces, but knowing  Jonáš and the clarity of his thinking I guess I expect more.  Maybe he ran out of time.  I do look forward to his future work.


Kacper Ziemianin – Cymatic Clock

Nov. 22, 2011

Bunkier Sztuki

I love cymatics.  I’ve seen them used in various installations and it is difficult when you are using water compared to sand or flour.  One of my favorite uses with water was Marielle Jakobson’s installation Two Violins and a Theatre A Triptych of Resonances.  It will be difficult to decipher what is happening in the video of Kacper’s piece because it was extremely dark and impossible to document.  I liked his sine tones but the visual elements of his piece didn’t quite make it into my fancy.  I felt that the clock elements looked a bit sloppy – the choice of font, the placement of the water in relationship to each other, and the calibration of the tones.  One of the elements barely reacted at all.  I think this piece works conceptually but needs some fine tuning – it has the potential to be really beautiful.


binaura – alpha

Nov. 22nd, 2011

Bunkier Sztuki

Binaura is Agoston Nagy and  Samu Bence.  This piece used natural elements such as wood, sand, and stones with video and sound projection.  Casting projected light on things from nature changes them into objects that sometimes gain otherworldliness and other times lose essential textures.  I would say that this piece definitely floated into the otherworldly realm.  I felt like this was one of the most polished pieces in the festival and am sad that it never really had its own space.  There were some odd decisions made at the festival and one of them was the fact that this piece was installed on the “stage” of the performance space in the Bunkier.  I never really had enough time with this piece because I only got to see it for a brief period the night it was installed and then I didn’t see it again.  It was a pretty piece with the rocks responding to a participant’s patience and then growing delicate tentacles that would interact with you if you moved slowly.  If any sudden movements were made the tentacles would disappear into a white light that slowly faded as the rocks slowly became more luminescent.  This piece had a very flowy feminine aesthetic that was very clean.  The sound was bell tones and sine tones with jingly sounds that sounded like digital insects.  Of course once the rocks emitted the tentacles/antennae they did resemble some sort of creature.  The video features children interacting with it and that shows the success of the interactivity.  Something evident enough to engage participation but not manifested in an obvious way like an on/off switch.

I am a Fulbrighter currently doing sound/performance/art research in Poland.  I go to events, document them, and then write about their successes and failures.  I am an artist myself so I know it is difficult to hear what another person thinks sometimes, but hopefully if you have found your way here, this information can be useful to you in some way.

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One Comment

  1. […] Audio Art  was a really fantastic festival to be involved with.  I met most of the performing artists, and was able to attend most of the concerts and installations.  Looking back I wish I had reviewed the performances, but playing in the festival, going to all of the shows and socializing actually took quite a bit of time and I was only able to review the installations. […]

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