In honour of the theme of this month's issue, we are featuring two sound based projects. Firstly, a call for recordings around the theme "architecture and sound." Nathan Mcninch of Petit Sono is requesting submissions of field recordings (in mp3 format) dealing with the way in which architecture influences the experience of sound. Petit Sono will work these recordings into an audiovisual exhibition later in the year. Contributions of one or more files (cumulatively no longer than 10 minutes) can be mailed to Nathan@petitsono.com . To listen to some of the releases by Petit Sono, visit their website www.petitsono.com
Curator and sound archivist Otis F. Odder, has spent 2003 collecting rare and cult recordings that are now available at http://www.ubu.com/outsiders/365/index.html. The collection is called the 365 Days Project, and was created by sourcing one sound file (mostly from obscure record shops and archives) each day for the entire year.
There are some gems available in this collection, such as the lengthy radio broadcast about the "Paul is Dead" theory. For the uninitiated, the "Paul is Dead" rumour started rearing its head around the release of the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album by the Beatles in 1967. The rumour alleged that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash, but that due to the enormous commercial success of the Beatles, the band and record companies covered up this fact. What is interesting about the rumour, however, is that it is founded on what some saw as secret codes in the Sergeant Pepper album inlay, as well as the Abbey Road (1969) album cover. The radio broadcast provides a wealth of details on one of the most astounding conspiracy theories ever dreamed up in popular consciousness.
Other highlights include Michael Mills' guide to hidden and satanic messages in rock music, The Space Lady's Major Tom, Orson Wells' Frozen Peas Spot, and excerpts from the 1963 Radio Commercials Festival. As a repository of seldomly heard material, this project provides an invaluable look into the fodder of the audio environment of the not-so-distant past, and preserves these exceptional and touching gems that were not canonised together with the material we usually encounter from these periods.
Meanwhile back at the ranch
There was a flurry of activity in the local new media scene during the past couple of weeks. Esteemed new media educator Jules van der Vijver from the Netherlands visited the Michaelis School of Fine Art and the Institute for Film and New Media in July.
Van der Vijver started his career as printmaker in South Africa, specialising in silkscreen techniques, and was also involved with the Rorke's Drift centre. He returned to the Netherlands in 1984, and subsequently established New Media centres around the country such as the Communication and Design Centre in Breda (www.cmd-breda.nl). Currently he is Dean of the College of Fine Art and Design of Avans University in Breda. Discussions with Van der Vijver revolved around the relationship between the broad field of new media and more traditional fine art practices.
This debate is indeed a difficult and complex one, especially in our country, where new media practice is still rather young and underdeveloped. It is encouraging, however, that Van der Vijver adamantly argued for a broadened conception of the different roles that creative people can assume in this field, including that of artists, designers, craftsmen (and women), project developers, theorists and educators.
In June, the Wits School of Art held a breakthrough exhibition in interactive art. Under the guidance of Christo Doherty (head of the Digital Arts), Nathaniel Stern and Ralph Borland, students of the Interactive Media Design (MADA) class presented their work under the collective title Terminal_extensions: bodymetrics-virtual surveillance.
The exhibition makes extensive use of physical computing. The students� role did, however, not end with the creation of work; they also had to curate the exhibition and support their practical work through research in their theory component. More details and photos of some work on the exhibition can be found at www.wits.ac.za/artworks/news/01_07_04_terminal_group_exhib.htm.
A different group of young emerging artists are also making use of the proliferation and availability of digital media as the basis of their own production, as well as the ideology of their work. The recently launced Kopseer collective will, by the time of this going to press, have opened their first exhibition Best Before I, a video and sound exhibition, in Cape Town. Mark Antonello and Margaret Stone founded the collective early in 2004. Louise Pretorius, Deborah Webber, and others subsequently joined them.
The collective aims to provide a platform for young artists, by bringing together "a diverse audience in order to extend the notion of an exhibition into something that is engaging and interactive." From their manifesto (www.kopseer.com) it is clear that they wish to break out of the elitist environment of pure fine art, and aim to create "awareness of video and sound culture in Cape Town, therefore exposing creatives to film, advertising, music and art." It is my sincere hope that this collective will succeed in their diverse and open approach to visual and audio production in the digital sphere.