Music is a multi-sensory experience. That’s part of its power, part of what makes it hard to explain or even replicate. But how is our experience of music and the space in which we experience it changing, now that technology permeates our everyday lives? How have the visual and visceral arts embraced these changes?
The newest exhibit at the Sonos Studio in Los Angeles, Algo-Rhythms, opens July 17th, and explores just that: the brief history of how technology has made it possible to better see, feel, touch, move, hear, and thus, experience, music.
But explaining how software has changed how we listen to music isn’t always easy. The trick here is to assemble a collection of art and music works that display software while remaining interesting and accessible to audiences who may not be well-versed in code and computers.
All of the artists in the exhibition take a distinctly different approach to their exploration of the connection between software and music. Floating Point Collective, a Brooklyn-based art collective, looks at the social aspect of experiencing sound with their interactive installation. Sound production becomes a public event as audiences create virtual terrains of land, pitch, tone and scale variations which are live-printed into 3D sculptures.
A pioneer of computer animation, Larry Cuba is probably best known creating the visual effects for the Death Star sequence in the first Star Wars movie. His early animations in the 70’s represent a glimpse into the visionary work of establishing a new medium. Alongside Cuba, multidisciplinary artist and musician Yoshihide Sodeoka provides a look at animations from the time before computers were able to create actual images.
Both Cuba and Sodeoka provide a historical backdrop for the connection between software and music. Delving further, we explore the visual and physical sound sculptures with the work of Dev Harlan & Hawking Leary, Refik Anadol, and LIA. These groundbreaking artists have collaborated with the Guggenheim, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and others to create music experiences that are truly futuristic. For example, Harlan & Leary use software to translate tightly choreographed light, movement and mathematical structures into music. The result is an imposing physical sculpture – a light instrument – that plays itself.
The works of Anadol and LIA are sculptural as well, though two dimensional. Yet in two dimensions, rethinking music visually as conceptual art turns out to be a transformative experience. Anadol and LIA both have created algorithms that give shape to the invisible waves of sound and light surrounding us every day. What we see on screen is what these artists imagine waves might look like and how they would behave. There’s an idea here that music is an organic process, something with the ability to expand and grow on its own – like the listener.
Anadol is a graduate of UCLA’s Digital Media Arts department, led by software artist Casey Reas. As part of the Algo-Rhythms program series, Reas and professors from his department will lead a workshop-style demonstration of software-based audio-visual tools.
The connection between music, software, and art is already well-respected around the globe, yet there are few places to go to get a better understanding of it – a perfect opportunity to bring this collection to the Sonos Studio.
The Algo-Rhythms exhibition opens at Sonos Studio on 145 N. La Brea in LA on July 17th. Come by and experience how music comes to life through software and technology in ways you might not have seen, heard or interacted with before.
Video by Emilio Gomariz and music by Hawking Leary.
More information about Algo-Rhythms here.