17 November 2007

Designing Sound Furniture

As more scientific research focuses on the perception of sound, sound as an area of artistic & cultural inquiry is gaining credibility.

The UK’s first exhibition on sound art, Sonic Boom was held in 2000 at London’s Hayward Gallery. Curated by David Toop, it featured 23 sound innovators including delicate sound sculptures by Max Eastley and an electromagnetic noise installation by Disinformation. The intention was to lift sound beyond the club and rave scene into the realm of artistic inquiry.
"Sonic Boom fills the Hayward with a series of sound installations in which the visitor encounters the mechanical and the organic, the electronic and the acoustic, the sculptural and the intangible. The exhibition creates both subtle and intense sensory experiences, offering a soundscape for the imagination."

Seven years later, the 'soundscape for the imagination' is literally translated into the tangible and a new sensory event emerges. Matthew Plummer Fernandez has created the Sound/Chair, in which electronic music exists simultaneously as design in a project that explores the translation of furniture into sound and sound into furniture. The Sound/Chair is an exact replica of a soundwave graph produced by Sean Shreeve. An experiment in mapping soundwaves materially, the piece was launched at the London Design Festival in September.
"When sound is presented in this manner, the beautiful and unexplored aesthetic of sound is discovered; a landscape of spikes and shapes that vary accordingly to the type of sound... The end result is a chair that carries the inherited aesthetic of sound and also a chair that can be heard as a sound."

Current debates on sound as art are expanded upon in Alan Licht's 'Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Catagories (2007) and Brandon Labelle's 'Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006).

1 comment:

MPF said...

Thanks for writing up about sound-design-sculpture hybrids and mentioning my chair. I just wanted to make a small correction - Shreeve composed a song that used the sound/chair looping throughout the song - he confusingly named the song 'song/chair' which misinteprets my use of the 'sound/chair' name. I created the sound wave for the chair myself by patiently boosting and cutting frequencies until carving out the desired shape. I'll be exhibiting some follow-up projects in Milan (April 16 - 21) alongside the chair at the designersblock milan 2.0 exhibition.