Sounding Out the Space

An International Conference on the Spatiality of Sound

2‒4 November 2017

A collaboration between DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, the Dublin School of Creative Arts and GradCAM

Keynote Speakers:

Bill Fontana - American sound artist and composer

Brandon LaBelle - artist, writer and theorist

Sound is an inherently spatial phenomenon. No matter what its point of origin, be it a musical instrument, a voice, an audio speaker, or another sound-producing entity, sound must navigate space before reaching our ears. On this journey it enters into a complex relational dynamic with the surrounding environment: it may be amplified, distorted, reverberated, dissipated and subject to a multitude of transformations which modify it in different ways. While this dynamic is an intrinsic part of any sonic event, certain artistic endeavours have sought to exploit this spatial aspect of sound as a distinct parameter in its own right. Though spatial experiments have a long history in western music stretching back centuries, the search for novel means of expression in the twentieth century led to an unprecedented investigation into the spatiality of sound as an integral component of the work. From Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet, such concerns have been at the centre of some of the canonic works of musical modernism. In the discipline of sound art, auditory dialogues with the surrounding space have been the defining feature of sound installations by Max Neuhaus, Bernhard Leitner, Maryanne Amacher and others, who have sought to locate sound in relation to architecture. While such work grew out of developments in the wider field of art installation, increasingly the practices of both sound and art installation have converged in the work of artists such as Janet Cardiff and Zimoun forming multi-sensory experiences. Expanding outwards, the multi-site sound installations of Bill Fontana have developed the notion of spatiality across geographical locations while recent innovations in communication and digital technologies have created virtual networks, redefining our conception of space and presenting new possibilities for music, sound art and visual art.

Although substantial research on the spatiality of sound has been carried out within the disciplines of musicology, sound art, and visual art studies, much of this work has remained separate, enclosed within these specialised fields of research. This conference aims to address this imbalance, acknowledging the fluid exchange of ideas between these spheres in actual practice and fostering an interdisciplinary spirit amongst researchers and practitioners. The conference committee thus invites presentations from sound artists,visual artists, composers, academics, and post-graduate researchers which consider the spatiality of sound in all its diverse forms.

This conference is hosted by DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, the Dublin School of Creative Arts and GradCAM. It is generously supported by the Society for Musicology in Ireland (SMI), the Contemporary Music Centre (CMC), the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, the Solstice Gallery, the Spatial Music Collective and the Irish Sound Science and Technology Association.

Call for Papers

Although the conference remit is broad, the committee especially encourages contributions which address (but need not be limited by) the following three strands:

Sound and Visual Art

Convergences between Sound and Visual Art/Historical Perspectives/Installation/Modes of Listening/Sound Architectures

Spatial Music

Analytical Accounts/Attempts at Definition and Theorisation/Composer Perspectives/the History of Spatial Music/Listener Perception/Performance Challenges/Sound Technologies

Geographic and Virtual Spaces

Digital Networks and Communication Technologies/Live Streaming and Web-cast/Interactivity and Participation

The committee particularly invites proposals which are interdisciplinary in nature and that aim to explore the significant exchange of ideas between the fields of sound art, visual art and music. Also welcome are collaborative proposals from academics and practitioners.

Proposals are invited in the following formats:

‒Individual Papers (20 mins duration plus 10 mins discussion)

‒Joint Papers (max 2 speakers, same format as above)

‒Themed Sessions (3 papers totaling 90 mins or 4 papers totaling 120 mins)

‒Panel and Roundtable Discussions (90 mins, max 6 speakers)

Proposals for individual and joint papers must be in the form of an abstract not exceeding 250 words. Proposals for themed sessions, panels and roundtable discussions should not be more than 800 words and should indicate the number and title of each individual paper with its abstract. Abstracts may be submitted in either a Microsoft Word document or via a PDF attachment. All proposals should include name, contact details, institutional affiliation (if any) and a short biographical note of not more than 100 words on each speaker. The conference language is English. Proposals should be submitted to [email protected]

The deadline for submissions was 31 March 2017. This call is now closed.

All proposals will be subject to a double blind review process by the conference’s scientific committee which is comprised of specialists from the disciplines of sound art, visual art and musicology.Applicants will receive notification as to whether their proposal has been accepted by early May 2017.

Conference Committee

Dr Adrian Smith (Conference Chair) / Dr Brian Fay (Acting Head of School, Dublin School of Creative Arts, DIT) / Dr Mark Fitzgerald (Senior Lecturer, DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama) / Dr Noel Fitzpatrick (Head of Research, College of Arts and Tourism, DIT) / Martin McCabe (GradCAM and School of Media, DIT) / Jonathan Nangle (Composer and Senior Lecturer, Royal Irish Academy of Music)

Scientific Committee

Dr Enda Bates (Composer and founding member of the Spatial Music Collective) / Dr Brian Bridges (Ulster University) / Jennie Guy (Independent Curator) / Dr Kerry Hagan (Digital Media and Arts Research Centre, University of Limerick) / Fiona Kearney (Director, Glucksman Gallery, Cork) / Dr Victor Lazzarini (National University of Ireland, Maynooth) / Dr Linda O’Keefe (University of Lancaster) / Dr Karen Power (University College Cork) / Belinda Quirke (Director, Solstice Arts Gallery, Navan) / Prof Pedro Rebelo (Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast)

Bill Fontana

Bill Fontana

Bill Fontana (born USA 1947) is an American composer and artist who developed an international reputation for his pioneering experiments in sound. Since the early 70’s Fontana has used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Post Museum in Frankfurt, the Art History and Natural History Museums in Vienna, both Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, the 48th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of NSE in Sydney and the new Kolumba Museum in Cologne. He has done major radio sound art projects for the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, West German Radio (WDR), Swedish Radio, Radio France and the Austrian State Radio.

Brandon LaBelle

Brandon LaBelle

Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer and theorist working with questions of social life and cultural agency, using sound, performance, text and sited constructions. He develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a range of international contexts, often working in public. This leads to interventions and performative installations, archival work, and micro-actions aimed at the sphere of the (un)common and the unlikely. He is also an active lecturer working with institutions around the world addressing questions of auditory culture, sonic and spatial arts, experimental media practices and the voice. Current research projects focus on voicing and choreographies of the mouth, sonic materiality and auditory knowledge, and the aesthetics and politics of invisibility. He is the author of several texts including Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010), and Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2015; 2006). He lives in Berlin and is Professor at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway.

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