Open your ears.
Sonic Innovations, conceived and curated by sound artist Stephan Moore, continues to expand Caramoor’s programming with an annual exhibition of sound art, commissioned from artists working with sonic materials but outside the traditional modes of concert music. Since the groundbreaking exhibition In the Garden of Sonic Delights in 2014 (winner of ArtsWestchester’s Innovation Award), Caramoor has included sound art as part of its world-class programming, taking advantage of the historic grounds as a site for multiple works. Each artist has drawn inspiration from their chosen location, creating work that is mindful of the natural and human-made sounds and systems already present in the environment, while engaging each site’s unique characteristics, be they acoustic, historic, architectural, or natural.
Cara-tet: Please Be Seated (2017)
In his string quartet installation, Hugh Livingston presents the visitor with two unusual experiences. First, the feeling of a string instrument’s fundamental resonances, radiating through the chair into the body. Second, the visceral nature of the counterpoint between the intertwined individual voices of a string quartet. By placing the visitor experience at the center of that interchange, rather than at the distance typical of a concert hall, a new insight is offered into the essence of chamber composition. The voices of the string quartet are in fact all cello, recorded by the composer. There are canons and inversions and call-and-response, mimicking the easy intimacy of the social nature of a quartet, and inviting the listener to share in that experience. The installation developed for Caramoor draws on materials from Shostakovich’s Ninth String Quartet, tying to the summer’s performance by the Escher String Quartet.
Hugh Livingston creates multimedia installations related to natural and built spaces and performs exploratory cello music. Hugh graduated cum laude in music from Yale, recipient of the Bach Society Prize for excellence in musicianship. He has an MFA in contemporary music from the California Institute of the Arts and a doctorate from UC San Diego. Hugh composes situational music: responses to spaces, landscapes, history and people. He has catalogued 120 different pizzicato techniques for the cello and conducted extensive research in China on contemporary and historical music. His most recent book contribution is on contemporary sound garden design, forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Hugh Livingston is an innovator in the presentation of public sound environments, with installations over the world in gardens, museums, galleries and resonant spaces. He has composed a large-scale outdoor opera to be performed on a river, and is sound artist in residence at the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Washington, DC. Recently he was the McKnight Foundation Fellow Composer in Residence in Minneapolis with the American Composers Forum, and is the recipient of numerous grants from foundations such as Rockefeller, Getty, Doris Duke, Andrew Mellon, Fleishhacker, and Haas. In 2016-17, he is a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow and Artist in Residence at Fort Mason, San Francisco.
Clamor Machine (2017)
Unintelligible sounds assault would-be listeners and passersby publicly and privately. These sounds come in the form of clamor, digital feeds, and polemical performances. As live and recorded broadcasts this audio disrupts, annoys, warns, and shocks. Often driven by agendas, volume is the essential control. So dominant are these voices that masking one’s presence becomes a sonic practice while silence becomes unsafe. Clamor Machine uses randomized sound triggers on found car horns set in primitively designed archery bows to concretely exemplify the noise assaults of modern day living.
Born in Texas and raised in California, Margaret Noble’s experimental artworks have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her interdisciplinary work resides at the intersection of sound, sculpture, installation and performance. She holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego and an MFA in Sound Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Noble’s work is influenced by the beat-driven dance culture of southern California which flourished during the 1980’s and later led her to perform as an electronic music DJ in the underground club community of Chicago. In 2004, she branched out from the dance floor into experimental sound art for new audiences which intersected the electronic sound scene and the visual arts community. During this transition, Margaret created sound works for collaborative projects in video, dance and object theatre. Her artistic works have now evolved into sculpture and installation influenced by interests in memory, history, narrative, and identity. Noble’s work has been featured on KPBS, PRI, Art Ltd Magazine, Art Forum, San Francisco Weekly and the Washington Post. She was awarded the International Governor’s Grant, the Hayward Prize and the Creative Catalyst Fellowship. Her artistic residencies include the MAK Museum in Vienna and the Salzburg Academy of Fine Art. She has had several solo exhibitions including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Ohrenhoch der Geräuschladen Sound Gallery in Berlin, and Mute Gallery in Portugal.
Stone Song (2014)
Created for 2014’s In the Garden of Sonic Delights, Stone Song by Ranjit Bhatnagar was originally hosted by the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, SUNY and was brought to Caramoor in 2015.
“When I look at an old stone wall, I think about how the seemingly solid form has shifted and settled over time, through weathering and the erosion and compression of the soil. In order to explore this process through sound, Stone Song is laced with pressure sensors and strain gauges, and sensors for humidity, temperature, and barometric pressure. All this information feeds into a drone synthesizer, whose fundamental tones shift slowly over the months as the stones settle. Daily weather and seasonal changes will produce smaller, shorter-term changes in the stones’ song, as will the weight of visitors who stop to sit on it and listen.
“I’ve designed Stone Song in collaboration with Hilary Martin, Akira Inman, and Evan Oxland.”
— Ranjit Bhatnagar
Photo by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang
Ranjit Bhatnagar discovered sound art around age 14, listening to weird late night programs on KPFA. He now works with interactive and sound installations, with scanner photography, and with internet-based collaborative art. Recent works have been exhibited at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, the Parc d’aventures scientifiques in Belgium, Flux Factory in Queens, in the Artbots series at Eyebeam Atelier and the Pratt Institute in New York, and the Mermaid Show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in Brooklyn. He recently taught “Mister Resistor” at Parsons School of Design, a studio course and rock band with homemade instruments.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ranjit received a BA from U.C. Berkeley and an MS from the University of Pennsylvania, and was certified carnie trash by the Coney Island Sideshow School in 2002. He lives in Brooklyn next to a nice big park.
t(ch)ime is a site-specific sound installation that utilizes a quiet hideaway on the grounds of Caramoor to create an environment that is both familiar and otherworldly. The sole sound source of the piece is a collection of bell chimes that have been manipulated through increasing layers of digital processing as the path is traversed. The human element of the chime — with its familiar interplay of sound, weather and nature — is preserved, while the acoustic imperfections are highlighted, drawing attention to the physicality of the materials. As the listener approaches the center the sound of the installation begins to stand still while the sounds of nature and the outside world continue. The effect is a small temporal oasis of fragile and reflective sound, in which hearing becomes the listener’s most heightened sense.
The life and work of Taylor Deupree are less a study in contradictions than a portrait of the multidisciplinary artist in a still-young century.
Deupree is an accomplished sound artist whose recordings, rich with abstract atmospherics, have appeared on numerous record labels, as well as in site-specific installations at such institutions as the ICC (Tokyo, Japan) and the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Yamaguchi, Japan). He started out, in the 1990s, making new noises that edged outward toward the fringes of techno, and in time he found his own path to follow. His music today emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation. It’s marked by a deep attention to stillness, to an almost desperate near-silence.
And though there is an aura of insularity to Depuree’s work, he is a prolific collaborator, having collaborated with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Stephan Mathieu, Stephen Vitiello, Christopher Willits, Kenneth Kirschner, Frank Bretschneider, Richard Chartier, Savvas Ysatis, Tetsu Inoue, and others.
Deupree dedicates as much time to other people’s music as he does to his own. In 1997 he founded the record label 12k, which since then has released over 100 recordings by some of the most accomplished musicians and modern sound artists of our time.
Deupree continues to evolve his sound with an ambition and drive that is masked by his music’s inherent quietude. He approaches each project with an expectation of new directions, new processes, and new junctures.