So im a life science graduate in NUS.. and maybe its just in my mould to be rebellious but i’ve never fit into any stereotypical image of a science student.. ever since i was in secondary/high school. Im sure many people have felt the same way, but by no means does that form the basis of my study in Biological Art.
In my second year as a (disgruntled) science student, i came across this USP unit called ” Sonic Arts and Sciences”, which i happily took up. I remember Lonce asked me the first day in class why i wanted to do this Sonic arts class, and i replied , ” because i love music, as many of us do, and i would love to see how far i can stretch the understanding of it” Needless to say, that began somewhat of an obsession for me, studying the history while listening to music, studying the history of the music i was listening to … that was something i never did before and i was amazed at what a new sound universe that i had been thrown into. so i started this schism thing in NUS where i would do my science modules to complete the degree, but do ISMs (Independant Study Modules) with Lonce based around performative sound art, various aspects of sound art including popular sound art, plunderphonics, Cagean studies, and installation/interactive design.
I did a second pivotal module called ‘Biosemiotics’ (basically sound as communication devices, symbols, icones in nature) which, while didnt impress me all that much (though the teacher Don Favereau was an amazing, amazing guy), opened my eyes to this inter-disciplinary possibility that i was always wanted but was never introduced to in the education system.. I started looking into acoustic ecology, and into the possibilities of working from an ecologically sensitive angle of sound art – cumulating in a musique concrete project entitled ‘Fragility’ in 2007 which explored the perception of quotidian sounds from image focused to abstracted ones. Ran into works by Luc Ferrari, John Cage (is everywhere), Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk, Andrea McCartney, Murray Shafer, Hildergard Westerkamp and etc etc. basically i had the impression soundscaping was the way to go.
Until i finally got accepted into SymbioticA at UWA. I had sent in a porposal that sought to discover new soundscapes within the body and in particular test the resonating capacity of bone, and they apparently liked it. But going through the classes and speaking to Ionat and team, i got the feeling that sound as an art was not just about the end, but more about the processes of inquiry along the way. not just about composition, but about content, and choice of material – for my science (results-oriented) brain , this was life-changing and absolutely delicious. Even though they weren’t all that oriented towards sound art, I had several intriguing conversations around the use of sound and became more interested in understanding the qualities of resonance, and of biological organs as definitions of space. The stethoscope became my field recorder and the architecture of the body became potential chambers for creating and composing resonance.
My final year project last semester was entitled ‘Screaming Bones, Vibrating Mass’ – a piece that used cow bones (femur) as conduits for information that was generated in a feedback loop by attaching a contact microphone as well as a small speaker at each end of the tube. A sine tone was generated and the recordings tailored via Max MSP to a tenuous position between wailing feedback and vibrating the bone such that visitors could appreciate the fact that the bone’s vibrations were central to the installation, and thus by handling them, they could interact with the piece. It was rather succesful and i was graded pretty good for that, so i take it as a vote of confidence that im headed in the right direction.
here s a photo of it.
Like all installations, there were more than a few problems with realizing the project, and i’ve learnt quite a bit from them heh..
yeap i have to say that.
okay so the next few posts will be about other people.