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Events in 2002: Experiencing the Art of Hyper-Listening


The first event in a continuing series presented by View Masters (The Sound Collection and Observation Organization) was held in the summer of 2002 at the Aka Renga (Red Brick) Warehouse in the Osaka Port area. The focus of the lecture, concert and workshop, which were collectively titled "The Joy of Sound Spotting: The Popology of Recording," was placed on how, by simply changing the way one listens, an everyday space can become art.

Events in 2003: "Sound" as a Mirror (of the Viewer) - "Recording," "Finding," Capturing" Sound

 

In our lives, we are constantly surrounded by sound. This includes everything from twittering birds, ventilation fans, computers, streaming water in the shower, factory machinery, chirping insects, cell phones, car engines, background music, the distant barking of dogs and passing trains. If you close your eyes and prick up your ears for a moment, you begin to realize how far the surrounding soundscape and environment stretches. We are, as it were, in a wide expanse of sea with waves of sound billowing up and folding into each other. Despite this, in the hectic pace of contemporary society, it is all we can do to remain conscious of our surroundings much less begin to appreciate "sound" as it is. Music might be thought of as a collection of islands floating in the sea that are heard or used differently according to the group or individual. Physically, every sound is a vibration conveyed through waves, which allow the energy of a sound to be emitted before it vanishes.


Yet, it is reasonable to imagine that every "sound" leaves its trace somewhere in the depths of our memories. A landscape is not merely visual, it clearly activates all of our senses, including hearing, smell and touch. The act of "listening" allows us to experience an environment or the passage of time in a way that isn't visible to the eye. Thus, by editing the world with an extraction method such as "sound spotting," sound functions as an alternative mirror reflecting the society or environment that serves as a backdrop to our lives.

As for the main part of the workshop, the participants' sound reports, it was fascinating to see so many varied approaches. Among these were recordings of a playground swing in a park at dusk, a pipe conveying water to a rice paddy, a popping noise created by manipulating a microphone, an AM radio inside a car, a collection of chirping insects, a band of chindonya (roving musical advertisers) in Asakusa, a talking vending machine, a bath in an attic, an electric water heater and many more. In the written reports for each sound, the participants answered the questions, Why did you record this sound? Once you had captured it, what did you think? What part of it do you want others to hear? The answers had the air of something that had been freshly harvested - an automatic impulse, you might say. According to one of the sound reporters, whose recording was titled "Osaka South Port Pier Sewage Tank," he was so preoccupied with recording the reverberations of the water splashing from below that he was stunned to find the sound of chirping sparrows on his MD, when he listened to it afterward. Because what is known as the "cocktail party phenomenon" - the sensory psychology of only picking out specific sounds in an environment - doesn't extend to the mic, the outcome can sometimes be the opposite of what one intended. On the other hand, the on-site photograph of the menacing darkness inside the iron, sewage tank that provided the aural landscape for the recording was powerful enough to inspire a wondrous moment of poetic imagery in Ueda, who said, "Water springs back to the song of small avian angels as they frolic in the air." This is a perfect example of just how different the visible world can be from the world of sound. In the latter, all "reverberations" are treated equally. And "sound spotting" is a mirror that reflects each person along with the occasional appearance of other things.

Events in 2003: Mastering the Observation of Sound:

Soundart Edition

Events in 2004: A View of the Future Through Sound

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A four-year series of View Masters lectures, concerts and workshops at Aka Renga Soko (Red Brick Warehouse) in the Osaka Port area (2002-2005)