Hidden Sounds is a series of three sound installations which each explore sounds that are not audible to the human ear. Each work in the series focuses on unconventional recording methods for capturing and amplifying ultrasound, material-born sound, and electromagnetic radio waves.
The works were presented separately in May 2016 for a FAAS residency in Sudbury (material-born sound), at the Warbler’s Roost residence in August 2016 during an Almaguin Highlands Arts Council Studio Tour (electromagnetic sound), and in August 2017 at the Electric Eclectics Festival in Meaford (material-born and ultrasound).
Thank you to Dan Tapper for his assistance in building electromagnetic ‘natural radio’ receivers and to Hector Centeno for programming the ultrasonic recorder. Thanks to Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario in Sudbury and Electric Eclectics Festival for their extensive presentation support and to the Ontario Arts Council “Northern Arts” program for their financial assistance.
FAAS, May 2016
The first iteration of Hidden Sounds was entitled Feed-Bed and was realized at FAAS in May 2016, which was a site-specific art festival produced by Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario in Sudbury, Ontario. All of the artists built their works on site in the public. They were each given a temporary shelter to house the work made on the site and of which they could modify and transform. These structures were all installed in a downtown parking lot and created out of scaffolding that was covered in building wrap.
The version of Hidden Sounds at FAAS was interactive. After striking or playing one of the found objects the sound was captured through the material of that object by a contact microphone and then routed to another object which had a tactile transducer attached to it. The tactile transducer effectively transformed that second object into a speaker. The resulting sound was ‘coloured’ by the acoustic properties of both objects as well as by signal processing realized with the performance software Audiomulch.
Warbler’s Roost, August 2016
The second iteration of Hidden Sounds explored electromagnetic receivers in order to capture and amplify the ‘natural radio’ that travels through the ionosphere. With the technical and creative assistance of Dan Tapper a system was created to capture and amplify the natural radio that was occurring at the time of the installation exhibition. In this work the sound pickup and transmitted was not modified or transformed.
The exhibition was presented during the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council Studio Tour. It is a project where the public is invited to tour the studios of artists in the Almaguin Highlands in order to learn about the craft and artistic process of local artists. The work was exhibited along with other works by Yves Daoust, Christine Charette and Rob Gill that I curated as the Artistic Director of New Adventures in Sound Art. I wanted to include my work as a curator in the studio tour to give the local public a broader idea of the activities I am involved in.
Electric Eclectics, August 2017
The third iteration of Hidden Sounds was entitled Power is Rarely Silent. It was a site-specific performance installation for a small forest valley at the Funny Farm in Meaford, Ontario, which hosts the annual Electric Eclectics Festival.
This version required power supplied by a low power generator. Although the low power of the generator meant that it was quieter then most portable power generators it was still loud enough to fill the ambient noise floor of a very quiet location. Therefore, I decided to make recordings of the generator using contact microphones and create a fixed piece that incorporates them at different speeds and pitches to create a textural drone that at times could mask the live sound of the generator. In addition to that drone I included contact mic and air recordings of the large metal structures found at the site as well as the small stream of water run off still running during what was an unusually wet summer.
The fixed media content that I created from these sources was performed by projecting an ultrasonic sound beam of the audio and reflecting that off of the surfaces in the valley. When this ultrasound interacted with the atmosphere it produced narrow beams of high frequency sound. As I moved the speaker around I created very natural movement and dispersion of the sound in the environment. The performance was presented in the context of an installation where audience members that visited could listen to the piece and immediately after listening discuss the piece with me and share their impressions.