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Bojana Pikur Spatiality of Sound In December 2005, the Moderna galerija (Museum of Modern Art) organized a series of sound

events (performances, exhibitions, concerts, workshops, and lectures) under the title Oscillations 30 Days of Sound, most of which took place at its Mala galerija site.1 Among other things, we wanted to show that interdisciplinary work and crossing between different fields of artistic creativity do not belong exclusively to the art of the past decade but that, indeed, artists have been creating so-called sound spaces for a very long time. What does this actually mean in practice? Niklas Luhmann said that all systems, including the art system, are autonomous, which means that as soon as the system acknowledges a given activity as art it, it then becomes part of that system. To put it another way, the boundaries of the art system remain intact; if something enters it, that something becomes part of the system and is no longer an element in the environment. By this reasoning, sound event that takes place in a gallery setting becomes, a priori, an art event. But other interpretations are also possible; we were interested especially in ones related to the concept of openness (for example, the open work). Openness does not mean that the structure is insufficiently defined by external boundaries, but that openness is one of its essential principles. Thus, although a certain armor remains (such armor, of course, can also develop in relation to the art system, for example, to production, representation, distribution), it is very supple; primarily, we are talking about the coexistence of different conditions. The advantage is that it becomes possible to include any activity while changing the elements that form the content. In this way, we avoid any final demarcation of boundaries.2 In this context, perhaps the idea behind Oscillations was best illustrated by Brandon Labelle, when he writes: Built into this idea is a move toward stepping outside the framework of Music as practice, as history, as culture as a way to create situations for this framework to be rethought or performed, as a kind of location itself.3

Mala galerija is located on Slovenska cesta, separate from Moderna galerijas main building. Oscillations took place there from 15 December 2005 to 15 January 2006. 2 Vinko Globokar, Vdih-izdih (Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1987), 72. 3 Brandon Labelle, Social Music (Los Angeles: Errant Bodies Press, 2002), 3.

In Slovenia, attempts to cross the boundaries between artistic forms and merge art with life began in the 1960s;4 Milenko Matanovi said that art must be brought into life if life is to be full. The audio works of the OHO group also followed this principle. So, for instance, at the start of his recording of the sound of the Sava River (David Nez, Sava, 1970), we hear Nezs remarks about eternal circlings and crossings (Sava life cosmos). In general, the following decades were very productive ones for audio experimentation, not only in the use of various sound sources, unusual audio links, simultaneous composition, and public participation, but also in the creation of entirely new instruments, as well as in combinations of sound and image (experimental films, slide projections), sound and movement (expressive dance),5 live music and tapes, and so on. In December 1973, at the instigation of Bor Turel and Boris A. Novak, the experimental group Nomenklatura was founded. They explored intermedial space and the relationships between word, sound, movement, and image. The groups most well known projects were the happenings Zvok, ne jezi se [Sound, Dont Get Angry] (based on the board game lovek, ne jezi se [Man, Dont Get Angry]), which included performing sound (live and in theatrical situations) and demonstrating its functions in relation to spoken word and movement,6 and Spati v Barvi [To Sleep in Color] (at the Mala Drama Theater in Ljubljana). The emphasis was on mutual combinations and methods of producing various instrumental and vocal chiming sounds, which were realized through a kind of group play. The fundamental principle was, then, the participation of the public, or listeners, since the music poured onto the street and into everyday life. In this way, the group was trying to demythologize the sacred concert space and replace it with various kinds of sound environments. In the fall of 1975, the group OM Productions (Bor Turel, Duan Rogelj, Slobodan Valentini, and others) was founded as part of the work being done at Radio tudent. OM realized a series of programs under the title World Sound, and opened up several stillunknown territories of sound organization, as it explored the audio potential of the radiophonic medium: the conception of the radio program as a musical composition, the simultaneous multiplication of audio elements, the organization of the material on the basis of

In 1959, Allan Kaprow organized Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts, which today is considered to be the first happening in America. This was a spatio-temporal sequence of sounds, images, smells, and physical movement with performance instructions: for example, lights should be turned on and off at certain intervals and at various speeds. Such instructions were given to both performers and viewers. 5 Such as, for example, work by the dancer Jasna Knez (Nomenklatura, SAETA). 6 From the instructions Elementi zvonega dogodka in osnovne zvone akcije [Elements of a Sound Event and Basic Sound Actions].

aleatory principles (i.e., chance), etc.7 At the time, indeed, Radio tudent played an important role in the development and spread of concepts of audio experimentation and research.8 Thus, for instance, in its regular program on 30 January 1978, as part of the cycle Sound of the Planet, the station broadcast A Direct Transmission from the Rinka Waterfall. This was the first known case of a program broadcasting, as program content, an hour of silence, or rather, merely static from a medium-wave transmitter. OM Productions made a number of multimedia projects, for example, NOM-OM, Sedem skozi solsticij [Seven through the Solstice]9 (at Moderna galerija, in collaboration with the group SAETA10), which it described as investigations into the dramaturgy of the audio and visual process of happening; reduction and multiplication, narrowing and broadening of the perceptive focus of the listener-viewer; the affinities and heterogeneity of the concepts of image and sound; difference in the levels of interaction of sound and image.11 The project sought to explore the total multiplication and parallelism of different media. Bor Turel12 and Milo Bain founded the group SAETA in 1977,13 and the following year it took up residence at the Beigrad Gallery in Ljubljana. The groups musical focus combined free improvisation, elements of experimental music, of minimalist music, and recorded electro-acoustic materials or more precisely, repetitive music for one or more instruments; music based on so-called open forms, the transcription of which gives graphic, verbal, and pictorial directions for improvisation; electronic music (recorded live), which also includes studio research, along with the aesthetic and educational aspects of this music; music for audiotape generally (electronic, concrete, instrumental); the music of concrete sounds (live

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From a conversation with Bor Turel and Slobodan Valentini. Radio art (Barbara Schroeder), or radio-specific art, has a long tradition; consider, for example, the work of Luc Ferrari. French radio stations were also the birthplace of musique concrte. 9 Seven through the Solstice was performed on 19 June 1981 at the Moderna galerija. According to the published program, the evening began at 5 p.m. with taped electro-acoustic music (B. Turel, B. Perovek, A. Lithaud); at 6 p.m., there was a screening of the film Multiplay Film Radiomusic, followed by a demonstration of the principles behind the sound creation Posenzibilnosti [Postsensibilities]. Next came a musical work, Koordinacije [Coordinations], a system of prioritized instrumental actions, the sound project Noise, and at 8:30 p.m., the multimedia project Seven through the Solstice (with slides by Niko Lehrman, film by Slobodan Valentini). 10 One of the key participants in the group is Botjan Perovek, who also works independently. He creates music based on sounds from the natural environment, urban environments, and sound (e-)interpretations of texts. An example is his project Pokisls, which was performed on Radio tudent as part of Oscillations. 11 This comes from a history of the groups SAETA and OM Productions, dated 22 November 1979, Ljubljana. 12 Bor Turel is the most prominent Slovene composer of electro-acoustic and experimental music. He created the sound event Raj je padel na zemljo [Paradise Fell to Earth] at the Moderna galerija. 13 This group is still active. In addition to Turel and Bain, its core participants have been the flautist Ale Gaspari, Botjan Perovek (accordion, clarinet, electro-acoustic media), Miha Vipotnik (video), Slobodan Valentini (experimental film), and Niko Lehrman (slides, set design). Many other artists have also worked with the group, including Alain Lithaud and Vinko Globokar. Today, the group SAETA is made up of Bain, Gaspari, Lado Jaka, Perovek, and Joe Slak, with Bor Turel as an occasional member.

or taped); music collages of known and unknown sound sources, speech sounds, voice, etc.; music from the sounds of audio environments.14 They started from the principle that they needed to introduce the listener to a different way of organizing the structure of sounds or rather, they began with the definition of music as an organization of sounds. On this basis, a group play develops in which each player is at once both performer and composer; a collective composition thus emerges that is the music of the relationships between sounds and people. In this way, they created specific sound spaces, into which concrete sounds, recorded sounds, or speech might also enter. Another person who was exploring new models of free improvisation, different ways to produce sound, and new methods for playing instruments was Vinko Globokar. An example is his work Laboratorium15 an open series of works intended to be played, concepts, and didactic illustrations, in which it is possible to combine all the different components. A presentation of this work can resemble a guided tour of a laboratory, one that includes showing how the music itself is born. By the end of the seventies, the Hidrogizma was in operation; this was both a musical instrument and a sculpture, and used sounds made by water drops falling on different surfaces. Its skeleton was a construction made out of water collectors and little pipes (drippers, shower heads, and organ pipes); later, a water tank was added with holes from which a very thin stream of water flowed down a cord, which was strung around the space so that at points where there were knots or where the ends of other cords were tied, the water would collect and then drip onto variously placed resonators. There were also experiments with different sound sources, such as meters-tall springs and the sound of water from an aquarium pump amplified in resonance pans. Every time the Hidrogizma was erected, it was different; everything depended on where it was installed.16 In the 1980s, the group Laibach put its stamp on experimental sound art. This was also the decade when Slovenias alternative culture scene took shape.17 Laibach usurped the role of radical ideology; with a surreptitious gesture, they exposed this ideology as totalitarian, and

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From a history of the groups SAETA and OM Productions, dated 22 November 1979, Ljubljana. This event at the Moderna galerija was cancelled due to illness. 16 Duan Pirih Hup presents a short history of the project in the journal Likovne besede, nos. 6364 (2003), 138 142. In 2004, the Hidrogizma was included in the exhibition 7 Sins at the Moderna galerija. 17 Such groups as Borghesia, Berlinski zid [Berlin Wall], Meje kontrole [Borders of Control], Electric Fish, were all part of this scene. It is important, too, to mention the places where alternative culture could be found: Disko FV, the Upper ika Youth Center, KUC Forum (the KUC Gallery, video production), and so on.

their own deliberate adoption of unfreedom as freedom.18 The group also managed to avoid the usual ways of defining art disciplines and were themselves a kind of social/comprehensive artwork. At the Mala galerija, then, a tape recorder, radio, megaphone, and record player stood on pedestals in front of a wall triptych, and the sounds issuing from all four created a cacophony of minimalist and repetitive patterns. In this way, the repression of industrial ritual is transformed into a compositional dictate and the politicization of sound can become absolute sonicity.19 In the design of this installation, Laibach took as their starting point their historic concert performances (based on the aesthetics and philosophy of industrial culture), especially the groundbreaking concert The Instrumentality of the State Machine, which they performed 23 April 1983 at the Zagreb Biennial of New Music. A noticeable shift in our understanding of the aural came about through the involvement of new media and the ever-greater integration of sound-based works in contemporary art practices, a process that began in the late 1980s, when, as Igor Zabel observed, the notion of contemporary art gradually developed, which meant that the artwork was no longer necessarily an object with special formal characteristics.20 Although similar (i.e., contemporary) practices had been around for decades, they had not been contextualized within the dominant art discourse, or had not required any institution for their existence, or had emerged within the context of a different connection and understanding of what art actually is (and for whom it is intended). Thus, todays artists deal with electronic, digital, and mechanical sounds, with the human voice, with ambient sound, various signals and industrial noise, as well as crossing into other fields of creativity. A typical feature of such projects is that we cannot know in advance what their outcome will be; thus, their identity as art remains in question, for their experimental forms and concepts transcend the boundaries of what we understand as sound art, and open up into various kinds of social space. With the project Oscillations, we tried to create spaces of sound at the Mala galerija, given all the assumptions just listed. Joe Baris project was based on research into noise,21 or rather its sociological dimensions. Its essence lay in the actual listening or perceiving of the sound material (the

Taras Kermauner, X + (-) 11 = ?: Premiljevanje ob mlaji slovenski poeziji, in Igor panjol and Igor Zabel, eds., Do roba in naprej: Slovenska umetnost 19751985 (Ljubljana: Moderna galerija, 2003), 109. 19 From the wall text in the Mala galerija exhibition. 20 Igor Zabel, Sodobna umetnost, in Igor panjol and Igor Zabel, eds., Teritoriji, identitete, mree: Slovenska umetnost 19952005 (Ljubljana: Moderna galerija, 2005), 6. 21 The art of noise had been researched long before by Luigi Russolo, who in 1913 wrote a manifesto on the subject and, among other things, created noise-making machines he called intonarumori. Jacques Attali offered a theoretical view on the topic in his work Noise (1977).

sound of sirens). We can understand the project in the broader context of Jacques Attali, who wrote that sound does not in itself exist as such, but only in the system in which it appears. Mutation in the organization of noise helps one understand the nature of sound and technology and to predict the future development of society as a whole. In other words, wherever noise penetrates, new forms of social organization can emerge. In his project, Luka Prini22 asked to what extent is composition present as the final stage in the cycle of new noiz static noise as subversion, social emancipation in the political economy of sound.23 Has not contemporary electronic sound, unsevered from its contexts, already defetishized the character of music and, as such, made it possible for us to listen again? In the gallery, he put together a system of different linked computers, which communicated with each other at random, selecting sampled sounds and so creating an aural composition. The temporary sound systems are, then, a series of questions, a search for demonstrative or even political meaning. Borut Savski,24 as part of his research into micro-social algorithms, linked the sound of the machine and its algorithm to the relationship we all have with it, which at the same time is an open creation in the public domain. This was not merely about the deconstruction of existing systems (most often, social and psychological ones); rather, Savski built a number of similar parallel constructs (in the textual, the aural, and often also the material realms), in which the internal relationships in these psychosocial systems appeared partly visible. Marko Konik started experimenting with the medium as such within the context of the Egon March Institute;25 later, beginning with so-called experimental music, he broadened such events into spatial, aural, material, and visual installations (very often interactive) in which technology played a central role. At the Mala galerija, his Prezvokovanja [Sonomancy] was presented as an aural composition of statements and voices. The basis of the performance by Brane Zorman26 was a spatial sonic manipulation of material using various techniques and working with sound in real time. For this process of live composition, he used prepared musical elements, series of modulations, and synthesized

Luka Prini is a DJ, programmer, and copyleft writer. In his project at the Mala galerija, he explores open programming tools, generative musical and visual 3-D procedures, and open performative practices. 23 From the catalogue, Oscilacije: 30 dni zvoka, ed. Bojana Pikur (Ljubljana: Moderna galerija, 2005), 32. 24 Borut Savski is one of the founders, along with Marko Konik, Luka Frelih, and Chiron Morpheus, of the Ministry of Experimentation, which operated as part of Radio tudent from 1996 to 2000, presenting occasional live events. Its aim was to explore such things as new media for transmitting sound, sound events on the Internet, etc. 25 Konik founded this institute a creative entity for the theory, research, and production in the field of new media in 1986. 26 Brane Zorman founded the punk group O! KULT in the 1980s, and was a pioneer in the Slovene techno scene. At the Mala galerija he performed his Surround Concert for 6 Channels and 2 TV Eyes, ambient electronic sound research combined with video recordings on two television screens.

voices and instruments, as well as a principle of pure improvisation in relation to the situation emerging in the space. The body was employed as an instrument by Multitask27 (using his voice as an analogical illusion of the digital) and Irena Tomain28 (in a vocal performance). Through the feedback effect, Miha Ciglar turned a mix board into an oscillator, and his body into a mix board. Sound was thus shaped by the body itself. Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec gave a talk29 in which he presented the presuppositions underpinning his research into the affinity between the physical proximity of human bodies in space and the concept of the proximity of sono-musical parameters. rx:tx30 experimented with technological systems, using an audio and visual archive to create new sonic syntheses and showing participants how radio signals or various electromagnetic waves can be transformed into sonic and performative experience. Relying on binaural neurotechnology, Primo Potonik31 used sound signals to synchronize brain waves. The project BrainEcho was accessible on the Web. Darij Kreuh created sonic abstractions out of the signals produced by body movement in the coordinates of the gallery space. The duo son:DA employed sound as the material for a sonic sculpture projected onto the windows of the Mala galerija: using a simple interface, a moving image created a sound, which then made it possible to turn a sonic signal into a pictorial one, and vice versa. And finally, Foo Bar32 was a series of events that took place from 2003 to 2005 (live performances, talks), among which formal news and contemporary topics were expressed through visual, aural, programming, and Web-based experiments. Within the context of Oscillations, this was an open system reflected in the choice of various materials generated from past events. .

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Multitask is Sao Vrabi. Irena Tomain is a dancer who has recently been focusing her attention on voice (for example, the performance Kaprica [Caprice]). 29 The title of the talk was Repicturing the Meaning of Mutual Distance in the Field of Audio Communication. Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolecs works encompass multimedia audio-visual installations, audio interventions in the public space, and composed, electro-acoustic, and improvised music. 30 rx:tx is a division of the nonprofit organization Projekt Atol. 31 Neuro-feedback is a technique you can use to exercise your brain so as to enhance your abilities. Brain activity gives off an EEG pattern, which is then used to create a feedback loop. 32 Foo Bar was organized by Dunja Kukovec; the events were held in the lower-level rooms of the Moderna galerija.

The sound spaces we created at the Mala galerija can never be repeated. Murray Schafer has said that sound can never be repeated in the same way, not even ones own name. And a sound that has once been heard is not the same as a sound heard a second time. When a situation is repeated, it loses immediacy and becomes merely a comment on itself. What path sound will take as it develops in the future, what sort of technologies, means of communication, and tools will develop, naturally depends, above all, on the active users and creators of these things. Or perhaps we should instead devise sound spaces of unlimited duration? In this way, we would rid ourselves completely of delimiting concepts. Such a project might run day and night, and the participants would never all be present at the same time but this means that those who are absent would be just as responsible for the event as those who, at the time, are actively involved. Responsibility thus becomes something shared, and the whole hierarchy of ownership, on the level of the idea, becomes looser. This is now a social event, one that is difficult to define because it might not even be there. Sound is a constituent part of human life. It is always present, and we enter and exit it freely.33


This is a partial paraphrase from Vinko Globokar, Individuum collectivum II, 1979 (Ljubljana: Zveza kulturnih organizacij Slovenije, 1995), 23c.