This exhibition designed for TotalMuseum draws an intinerary on three levels, and integrates the architecture of the place, respecting and highlighting the qualities of volumes, alternating dark and luminous spaces, with the perspectives of the large windows opened in the surrounding environment.
The exhibition assures the principle of considering the sound material as a constituent material of an artwork designed for a visual space, developing the idea of sound plasticity, and even amplifying the idea that any work of art, painting, sculpture... has its own sound dimension providing us, in silence, with some rustlings of the world. To watch and to listen... The concept of «transparency» is fully involved in this process of listening and stimulates the inversion of perspectives insofar as the sound can be the initiator of a plastic space.
The title «Through the glass listening» is an evocation of the book «Through the Looking-Glass» (1) written by Lewis Carroll in 1871, where the act of crossing the mirror allows the young heroine Alice from entering imaginary worlds , to move in
unheard spaces. For the exhibition, this crossing, from the transparency and its multiple reflections, becomes sound and is diffracted in countless echoes.
« Through the listening glass » gathers about twelve art works pierced by light waves and sound vibrations, creating various listening situations and offering an active visitor participation. The idea of «transparency» that motivates this exhibition suggests a broad multiple meanings. In constant variability and relativity, it characterizes many areas of social, political, moral, aesthetic ..., with the objective of fantasy of full transparency. Consisting rather in a kind of filtering of reality, it induces at once this world of connections and transformations between multiple expressions, and in particular this interconnection between music and visual arts.
In “Les Fleurs du Mal” (1861), Charles Baudelaire wrote : « Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent... Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent » (2). This idea constantly vibrating in the heart of the unconscious aesthetics of modernity (3). Today the music and the visual arts have acquired this proximity dreamed by the protagonists of «total art», by interferences, crossings, impregnations.
If the optical qualities of some materials, glass, liquid, lights ... constitute a breeding ground for these interpenetrations, the transparency has also extended to other areas of investigation, it is central to the effervescent world of communications and networks, to proliferation of virtual spaces. The sound, purely vibratory and totally transparent space, has become the link of this exhibition. Translucent, it remains imbued with a true materiality like the «Words frozen» described by Pantagruel in the book by François Rabelais (4): beautiful and poetic premonitions of the concept of «sound object», announced by Pierre Schaeffer, emanating from voices, clamor and din of battles frozen by the Glacial Sea.
Music, through the constant synergies, over the centuries, maintained by technology and a scientific spirit, occupies a central place in the construction of these mixed territories. Music went on developing as an art linked to technology through complex and innovative mechanisms. From the eighteenth century, for example, several machines were invented, such as “ocular harpsichord”(clavecin oculaire) of Abbé Louis Bertrand Castel, intended to create «coloured music». The twentieth century is full of these new musical instruments factories. In the 50s, music has become the first «digital» art, by the use of the computer for composition and synthesis. The digitalization process focused and accelerated a process of dematerialization of the work of art, to the interoperability of each of its elements. Everything becomes lighter, disembodied, mobile and transparent. The artistic work, as an installation, has became polymorphic, and can be both tactile, immersive, interactive, mobile. So, visual and audio, at the same time, can strengthen, «increase» or erase each other: mobility, which meddles in between various artistic expressions, and the shift from a perception to another, both create a multitude of in-between states and unusual situations, just like an architecture made out of invisible threads. So, the sound can be fully or partly the spine of this interdisciplinarity: this is the common theme of the whole path of «Through the listening glass».
The technological and sound device is an integral part of the work, it is enterly involved in the configuration of this dynamic and vibratory intangible space. It can be decisive in the writing of the artistic project. If the idea of immateriality has always been present in the history of art, it had never been manifested by the absence of matter. Paradoxically, it is the emergence of sound as material, recordable, which will have the effect of generalizing a «vibration» approach to multidimensional space where the boundaries between artistic expressions are dwindling. Recently, the digital motion capture technology, have reintroduced the presence and power of gesture, (concept of «increased instrument» in the music environment), and helped to give their «body» to art objects in the process of dilution. More than the representation of movement, it is a question of energy and action that is «picked up». The interactive process is based on these invisible energies to include the presence of the public at the heart of the artist’s project.
Thus, the path of « Through the listening glass » induces this thinking on the artistic object: this one can disappear, it becomes light and sound trajectories (« 72 Impulse», «Time - Passing Through - Travel»), it reflected incessantly on itself («Coleslaw»,
« D’Ore et d’espace »), it spreads into countless broken ( «Walking through a line of neon lights») or it freezes into a waiting position ( «Retenue d’eau»). « Coleslaw » introduces also a notion of timelessness: playing with innumerable variations of interpretation of Cole Porter’s music, William Anastasi films himself throughout a game of mirrors.
As some kind of echo to this fluidity, and prelude to transparencies from « D’Ore et d’espace,», «Glass House» by Thomas Léon, stands a powerful glass building, kind of hybrid architectural monster with countless reflections and halos, surrounded by organ tones of crystal. Thomas Leon is based on the eponymous scenario of Sergei Eisenstein and his thoughts on a glass architecture that would be in immediate continuity between inside and outside, with reference to current expressionist and constructivist of this period, well as to Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. Images of Thomas Leon translate this interpenetration by reflections of urban landscapes mixed with the sounds of glass, in a translucid immersive universe.
As a day dream, golden leafs sound writings runoff of Denys Vinzant on glass plates create a space of lines, light and sound intersections, while mixing with visitors silhouettes. It is invited to hold an attitude of listening, being attentive to the sound of glass vibrations, and, indeed, to be part of the visual device.
TROUGH THE LISTENING GLASS, SOUND &TRANSPARENCY
Iuan Hau Chiang takes us on a journey that combines other types of interactions and connections, those of the individual and his social and personal environment, where light and all kinds of vibrations configure our identity. «Time - Passing through - Travel» presents itself as a stroll among an original sound and light structure, like a frame emerging from the ground.
While Iuan Hau Chiang gives his priority to urban atmosphere, Pierre Alain Jaffrennou invites us for a walk in a vegetal universe of parks and gardens in his « greensounds » installation. The notion « transparency » is considered here as a «transportation », as this artwork consists in a metaphorical recreation of natural environment, a transfer of sound and visual landscape, thatechoes a permanent installation situated in the Gerland Parl in Lyon. « greensounds » takes its sources in a huge library of digital sounds and it constructs a specific world between the reality and virtuality: a mixture of sounds of insects, little animals and the other ones with a cultural character, or the last ones, that sound quite ambivalent in the heart of vegetal wealth. The composed result, calculated in live by the computer, is totally unforeseen and always renewed. With the help of a smartphone supplied with sensors of movement, a visitor can interact to a sound elaboration, to its space spread and its development.
The principle of interaction is also at the heart of «72 Impulse». In a spectacular vanishing point, Trafik and Yann Orlarey’s «72 Impulse», composed of 6 structures and strips of LEDs and tools-impactors projects in multiple graphic, plastic and sound perspectives. «72 Impulse» is a crossing where sounds have never timbre nor pitch, where lines and volumes construct and deconstrut in a «sidereal» atmosphere . The public is requested to play with theses combinations and trajectories.
Opening the itinerary of the exhibition, before the incessant vibrations of «72 Impulse», the visitor discovers the suspended and silent score of Matt Coco. «fantôme» is consisted of a roll of about thirty meters long, playing with empty and the absence of sound. The installation is based on the breakup of the image of a landscape and its recess. It suggests an imaginary listening, from a technique of hollowing out a form and keep only the full, the remaining material is so called «ghost».
The artworks of Michel François also have an interactive relationship of sound to silence, presenting situations and events already produced or waiting to be. To «Walking through aline of neon lights,» the public is projected in the steps of the walker, feels the change of state of the glass breaks and crunches everywhere, without any noise. « Retenue d’eau » of Michel François, still, sillent and whose the outcome is not written, induces an alternation between lightness and weight, emptiness and transparence, waiting for an event.
More discreet, and equally silent, the video projection «Seeing is Believing» by Hau Chiang Iuan puts us into these spaces confused between real life and virtual world, soliciting directly the architecture of the exhibition space. With «Thinking» of Xiao Yu, the route of «Through the listening glass» includes five installations where the sound directly calls in our imagination. The energy of exploded bamboo of «Thinking» refers to (sound) tensions from the past and future, already felt to the artworks of Michel François.
These art works were produced, for some of them, by Grame, national center for musical creation and multimedia Lyon. Their conception and production take part as much from sound as from picture. Technology, which is omnipresent, is integrated in the visual architecture, and allows composing multiple interferences between these translucent soundscapes, with contrasted aesthetics. The inherent qualities of glass, with different appareances, present in several installations, reinforce this poetic fluidity along a scenography path by sound and light, in a multitude of résonances.