At the end of the sixties artistic developments to leave the concert hall and value any sound as art objects, coincided with rising environmental concerns in society. Acoustic ecology (and the World Soundscape Project) came into existence and its influence spread over a wide range of artistic and research domains. Sound walks (Christina Kubisch), soundscapes based on field recordings (Hildegard Westerkamp) and compositions mapping data of natural phenomena (John Luther Adams) are just a few of the new sounds arts that appeared in the aftermath of acoustic ecology.
But a concert practice in dialogue with the direct environment is less present, i.e. performers shaping a composition and its performance with the sounds, acoustic features, visual images, architecture and human activities of the performance location. In my current artistic research the focus is on site-specific composition (in Dutch ‘compositie op locatie’). I mainly built upon the insights and practices of composers such as Murray Schafer, David Dunn, Albert Mayr and Chester Schultz but audio art, sound installations and community music also play an important role.
Theoretically I will revitalize the concept ‘simultaneity’ from the first half of the twentieth century and let it interact with writers and researchers from audio art and ecological sciences (such as Steven Feld, David Rothenberg or Tim Ingold). In our society electric, electronic and digital devices are not the only force to disconnect and dislocate sensorial experiences. We see the other side of the planet on a phone screen while local enviromental sounds surround us. Widespread mechanic and architectural developments also enable this disconnection and dislocation. Large and insulated windows are omnipresent in buildings and vehicles. Through these windows we can see a landscape and hear another. The re-interpretation of simultaneity stresses the overall experience, produced by fusing, ignoring or conflicting simultaneous experiences. In this way contemporary, local space is interpreted as raising complex experiences without a strict border between fysical and virtual reality. This concept opens perspectives to exploit the artistic and musical potential of locations in gardens, parks, roofs, elevators, public and working spaces, more than possible in concert halls which are (acoustically and architecturally) often isolated from the surroundings.
The goal of this research project is the development of site-specific composition, by giving the concept simultaneity a new and local meaning on the one hand, and making artistic productions and designing experiments with interactions between musicians and the environment on the other.
I am working on this research project ‘site-specific composition’ (2016-2017) at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp (Artesis Plantijn University College).