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RESONANCE – A European Network for Sound Art

Submitted by on 12 Jul 2012 – 12:31

Harold SchellinxBy Harold Schellinx, RESONANCE Network

For well over a century the ever faster pace of developments in technology and the visual arts have led the ‘art of sound’ to burst out of the rather strict confines that historically were set by what is commonly understood by the name of ‘music’. The possibility to record, broadcast and synthesize sounds, quite literally, erased the borders of time, place and range given by the traditional notions of ‘performance’ and ‘instrument’. It incited visual artists to treat sound as matter that one might manipulate in ways akin to paint or stone. It enabled composers to drastically expand their palette of sounds and soundings. These days composers may – and often do – base their work upon the possible use of ‘whatever sound they can imagine’.

The term ‘Sound Art’ was coined in the1970s’s as a label for a quickly growing body of multidisciplinary works that abandoned traditional forms of music in favour of novel sound/space experiences, in which the auditor/viewer to a large extent may herself configure the chronological and spatial organisation of the perception of a work.

Nowadays ‘Sound Art’ is referring to a number of multidisciplinary artistic practices that gave rise to a growing body of ‘audible installations’ and ‘sound sculptures’. The numerous major exhibitions that worldwide have been dedicated to Sound Art over the past couple of decades, reflect the by now well-established importance of the genre.

Co-ordinated by Stichting Intro/In Situ in Maastricht (the Netherlands), the RESONANCE Network is a partnership of four experienced European organizers and artistic residency providers, together with a growing number of co-partners, that aims to set a standard for contemporary European Sound Art through a focus on the production, presentation, documentation and exchange of experience in the field. Apart from Stichting Intro/In Situ, current organizers are the Festival of Flanders in Kortrijk (Belgium), the Singuhr Hörgalerie in Berlin (Germany) and the contemporary art centre Le Bon Accueil in Rennes (France). Co-organizers include Skanu Mesz in Riga (Latvia), the Lydgalleriet in Bergen (Norway), the Audio Art Festival in Krakow (Poland) and the Association Bazar in Lille (France).

In the first two years of its existence (May 2010-May 2012), support of the European Culture Programme and the EACEA (Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency) has enabled RESONANCE to commission the production of six major new works of Sound Art from six European artists.

The artists were asked to create their work during an artist-residency at one of the organizers’ institutions, in a European country other than their homeland. Each residency was followed by a first presentation of the work, as part of an exhibition mostly including other sound art works commissioned by the network. Sound installations often are closely linked to a specific space and location: the architectural, social and historic space that is the locus of the work, is subject of the artistic debate. One of the challenges presented to the artists by RESONANCE, was the creation of a work that, despite its location-based and spatial character, could be re-created, hence made to resonate, at a number of different European locations, enabling the presentation of the work in a broad European context, thereby functioning as a means for cultural and artistic exchange.

The Latvian artist Evelina Deicmane created her work A Long Day, a sound installation inspired by an ancient Latvian tale about a flying lake, during a residency in Berlin, Germany. After its premiere, A Long Day was re-presented in the artist’s homeland Latvia (as part of the 2011 ‘Sound Forest Festival’ in Riga), and as part of a RESONANCE exhibition in Maastricht, the Netherlands. For the 2012 ‘Sounding City: Public Sound’ festival in Kortrijk, Belgium, Evelina Deicmane created a sequel to A Long Day. Also Becoming a Tree is based on a Latvian tale. It was installed on one of the old squares in the city of Kortrijk.

Because of the fact that several of the European towns that are home to the RESONANCE partners’ institutions are bisected by a river, the German artist Stefan Rummel imagined his work Articulated Chambers being placed partly on the surface of these rivers, and partly on their quays. His intricate installation was realized during a residency in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where over the summer of 2011 the work could be experienced on and off the river the Maas. The Articulated Chambers were subsequently re-installed on/off the rivers in the city of Riga, Latvia, and that of Kortrijk, Belgium.

Other RESONANCE sound installations were made by Pierre Berthet (from Liège, Belgium; Extended Drops, created in Berlin, re-installed in Maastricht, Bergen and Kortrijk), Esther Venrooy (from Ghent, Belgium;  A Shadow of a Wall, created in Maastricht, re-installed in Kortrijk, Riga and Krakow), Maia Urstad (from Bergen, Norway; Meanwhile, in Shanghai…, created in Kortijk, re-installed in Maastricht, Riga, Bergen and Berlin) and Paul Devens (from Maastricht, the Netherlands; City Chase, created in Kortrijk, re-installed in Krakow, Bergen and Maastricht).

In these first two years of its existence the results of the Networks efforts have more than lived up to the expectations of both the organizers and the artists. RESONANCE can look back on a series of successful presentations of new, European, Sound Art works, in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Latvia and Poland, often accompanied by lectures and evaluating panel discussions. It has laid a firm basis for the continuing and expanding collaboration over the coming years, in which RESONANCE, again supported by the European Culture Programme and the EACEA will continue its program of production and European presentations of new works of Sound Art, while aiming at the addition to its network of cultural organizers and artists from even more European partner countries.

The, ongoing, work of the network, including interviews with the participating artists, analytic descriptions of their work and reports of the divers European events and exhibitions, is documented on the RESONANCE web site, .