MARC COUROUX & JULIANA PIVATO
May 1 - June 30, 2013
COLLECTIVE ARTIST STATEMENT
As artists, we regard our practice as a collective enterprise comprised of collaborative and individual projects. We share a history in experimental music and performance that forms the basic vocabulary from which much of our work is generated. Broadly, we have both been involved with attempts to re-situate art-making in light of the pervasive effects of a viral, techno-centric culture. Mediating our ideas through sound, video, drawing, notation and live performance, our work examines the everyday tropes and patterns that determine to a large extent the conditions by which art can effectively function: hybridization and recombination, legibility and saturation, reduction and spin, distraction and fragmentation, repetition and difference.
Moreover, the technological frameworks through which a material reaches the viewer, conditioning and controlling the range of possible experience, constitute a primary entry point where resistant action is warranted. We take for granted that these are so deeply engrained they have become indissociable from the ostensible content at play; the techniques we have developed are intended to return their latent functioning to the foreground, where the viewer can become conscious of them. (Examples include: the predilection to associate sound and image, regardless of logic; the alchemical transformation of nonsense into sense through standardized forms; the scanning/scrubbing operations endemic to digital technologies, which irrevocably distort the perception of a given material, while destroying memory; the resolute incompatibilities of sound and image etc.)
We consider the work of the artist to be steadfastly experimental, attempting to render tangible the contextualizing structures—often invisible, taken for granted—which inform an individual's experience of material entities, both within and outside of art. The tasks we assign ourselves individually and collectively are distilled from a long-standing conversation; they function as probes, echolocation devices, providing feedback on a particular system, and foregrounding the listener-viewer's psychological and perceptual mechanisms in the act of producing meaning. Ultimately, beyond their local application, the frameworks we will be developing are intended to be recycled, reused by other individuals interested in de-functionalizing media, and untangling their own, messy relationship with it.
During the 8-week residency at Three Walls in May-June 2013, we propose to work on six projects: a series of process-directed works that will engage with the public nature of the gallery residency and the resources, locations and people unique to the city of Chicago to investigate the particular questions, materials and relationships that have thus far defined our practice. At its core, this residency is geared towards bringing artists and activists in contact with each other, to help develop and proliferate alternate means of radicalizing both art and social practice. Concept engineering with viral capacities.
The works will fall under four categories: collaborations, “nonsite” mediations, public sound interventions and bookworks. Each project will be mapped out as a series of specific tasks; focal points, where labor, analysis and critique intersect. An integral component of these works will be the presence of an invited public. The studio space will be accessible to visitors Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm-5pm, for the duration of the residency. Documentation in the form of photo, writing, audio and video will be made available online and on site. Visitors will be invited to consult the ongoing archival sedimentation and engage the artists in conversation on or around the questions being examined. When permission is given, these interactions will be documented.
In addition, a number of evening satellite events will take place in the gallery according to workshop, listening session and performance/concert models, and in conjunction with local Chicago musicians, sound artists and activists. These will be confirmed closer to the residency. For now, these might be:
- a three-evening workshop around sound&politics (with both Toronto and Chicago participants)
- expanded listening sessions geared towards exposing embedded earworms, foregrounding an individual's political orientation, discovering strategies for defeating earworms ("defensive" listening)
- concert / performances involving expansions of our previous work with local musicians
A - COLLABORATIONS
1: CARPENTER ET AL., a real-time social system.
Premise: How do radically incompatible materials culled from a culture of fragmentation and distraction collaborate and become strangely adjacent? How does Muzak (in its current incarnations) distill the peaks and valleys of a song into something which can be used to condition and influence behavior? What are the relationships between Muzak, political "spin", synecdoche and the soundbyte?
Activity: A computer accessing a database of current popular songs, selects random 3-second segments from 4 randomly chosen songs. The performers must learn these fragments and then slowly and smoothly string them together; in the process gaining knowledge on “spin”, decontextualization, reduction, summary...in short, making hybrid soundbytes meant to disrupt the usual functioning of Muzak.
Timeline: This process will take place over a one-week period. Visitors are invited to discuss the work-in-progress at their leisure.
Link: Carpenter et al., a real-time social system. (Pivato-Couroux, 2007) (6:30)
2. PROPOSITION FOR AN ALTERNATE UNIT OF MEASUREMENT (Public Collaboration)
What can the redrawing of a simple composition by many different people working in sequential collaboration return in the form of knowledge, understanding or comfort? This project will last the duration of the residency and will be contingent on public participation. The work will begin as a simple 9”x10” freehand composition of a repeating gesture in three colors. All visitors will be asked to voluntarily redraw the image. After the first redrawing, the original will not be identified. As the drawings accumulate and are displayed, each participant may choose any version to redraw. The composition of repeated shapes will perform as units of measurement, shifting alongside variations in individual engagement and uniting participants through a common goal.
Timeline: Continuing throughout the residency.
Link: Foldable Scores for Thinking (Pivato, 2012)
B - NONSITES
(in which activities taking place outside of the gallery are displaced into it, for the purposes of interrogation and analysis)
1: INFRA-LEGIBILITY (media intervention) (Couroux)
Premise: The concept of legibility permeates everyday life, legislating what can be seen and what remains (for the moment) inaccessible to perception (invisible). A culture of surfaces depends on first impressions and snap judgments; a legible, efficient transmission of essential content. Can the impetus to automatically associate be temporarily stalled through an approach which favors a long-term sedimentation of a material's characteristics? What are the political ramifications of de-functionalizing the "first read" by proceeding "infra-legibly" (below the threshold at which something can be clearly identified, categorized and dismissed)?
Activity: 50 television commercials (30 seconds each) captured from the Chicago mediascape will be rigorously permutated so that each commercial's image-track is recombined with each soundtrack, in order to produce a continuously shifting, indeterminate sense of legible meaning. How does each new recombination specifically lay bare the competing structural stresses of sound and image? What new associations are liberated, which former associations are suppressed? Notes on the concept of infra-legibility—how it might function, what it might reveal—will be inscribed on cards, to be scattered around the gallery in order to stimulate further creative endeavors among visitors.
Timeline: This project will take place over a four-week period. Visitors are invited to view the recombinations-in-process and develop a conversation around the idea of legibility.
Link: we know what you're looking for: pilot episode (24:00) (Couroux, 2011)
2: SONGS FROM THE WEST LOOP (Pivato)
How might field recordings, live improvisation and incidental content triangulate and orient a working relationship to an unstable subject – a city that never stops changing? A series of 5 experimental, 15-minute radio podcasts will be created in a different location in the city of Chicago: Pilsen, Garfield Park, Hyde Park, Logan Square and West Ridge/Rogers Park. Material will be both collected and created on site, then edited into 15-minute episodes.
I began working with radio podcasts in 2008. Songs from the Loop was an experimental, weekly 90-minute podcast on freeradiosaic.org (2008-9). The program was intended as a forum for working with geographically specific audio information in the pressure cooker of live performance. Each week, narrative and musical performances were improvised while 3-5 tracks of original material created at specific locations in the Chicago area were mixed live in contrapuntal dialogue to field recordings taken from these same areas. In 2011, I began We Are 96 - a 15-minute radio podcast that adapts this premise to a specific Toronto neighborhood (High Park). The proposed podcast Songs from the West Loop would preserve the integrity of the original show within the boundaries of the 15-minute format.
Timeline: Intermittently throughout the residency.
C - PUBLIC SOUND INTERVENTIONS (OPEN PARTICIPATION)
Premise: Contemporary life is characterized by an overwhelming plethora of random, predatory, auditory hails, which variously impel, impede, modulate and condition an individual's passage through both public and private (commercial/corporate) spaces, preventing the latter from building a coherent spatial and temporal narrative, and establishing a position from which to act (instead of being reduced to affective dis-position alone).
Activities: Open to any participant willing to collaborate towards conceptualizing and implementing a collection of synchronously enacted techniques for spatially circulating sonic materials, involving (among others, for example): subliminal sonic occupation of background registers (where control and security structures stealthily operate) in public built environments (malls, corporate spaces); the foregrounding of background music through public vocal performances and malfunctioning technologies; the circulation of cut-up and recombinant brands (sonic sigiling); the spreading of QR codes linking to specific online sonic materials; the relocation of field recordings from one social context (eg. an Occupy meeting) into another (corporate situation) which forces immediate reappraisal; the defusing of potential earworms in corporate spaces through feedback and re-embodiment (vocalization) etc.
Timeline: Throughout the residency.
Link: http://www.asounder.org (Toronto sonic tactic collective)
D - BOOKWORKS
FOLDABLE SCORES FOR THINKING, 35 BOOKWORKS IN PROCESS (Pivato)
Music initiated my relationship to drawing as a notational tool. Beyond utility, I am perplexed by the relational nature of compositional integrity. What makes a good drawing? In 2009, I began creating anthologies of drawings, tracing a process of compositional evolution (or regression) through permutations of form. I began Foldable Scores for Thinking in 2011. With 35 volumes (88pgs/each) currently in process they are a central component of my daily practice. In each book, a compositional model has been prescribed. As the drawings accumulate, so to do fluctuations in the number, scale and stability of the prescribed marks. When completed, each book presents 87 departures from the original composition; each drawing an active deferral of meaning beyond any complete survey of variations. For the residency, completed books will be accessible for perusal on reading tables as I continue this daily practice.
Timeline: Continuing throughout the residency.
Link: Foldable Scores for Thinking (Pivato, 2012)