By Sarah Bennett
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CHANGING THE SOUNDS OF THE CITY
Now in its eighth year, SoundWalk (www.soundwalk.org) will again take to the streets of Downtown Long Beach on Saturday for an evening of experimental sound art. Past years have featured synchronized symphonies, electronic sculptures and impromptu performances among a wide range of work that's hard to pin down as either noise or music.
In a world that's inundated with white noise and headphones, the annual event, organized by local artist group FLOOD, is not a bad way to heighten your senses and experience your surroundings anew. Artist and University of Redlands professor Marco Schindelmann first participated in 2005 and later joined FLOOD to become a co-curator and co-producer. He's confident 2011's event, which features 35 international and local artists, will have plenty to offer repeat attendees, Long Beach locals and newcomers.
"When SoundWalk first started, sound art within the Long Beach art scene was not well-known. You had a lot of artists who weren't necessarily sound artists but were interested in pursuing this art form," he says. "As a result, you had a lot of sound sculpture, which is one aspect of sound art.
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"Over the years, artists have started doing research into understanding that sound art is actually a multifaceted art form in which you have visual, aural and performative aspects," he continues. "It's a hybrid art form. The works have become much more conceptually and technologically sophisticated. We've moved from sound sculptures to artworks that deal with sound spatiality and relationships between sound and the other senses."
The beauty of exploring the art form in a city environment, Schindelmann says, lies in recontextualizing it. "You take a sound that is common to a certain environment and transport it elsewhere. When you move on within that environment, you become much more aware of sound. . . . For example, we've had people stop in front of an electrical transformer and start listening to it while looking on the map and wondering if it is an example of sound art, whereas before, they would simply walk past that object. From that point on, especially if they're residents of the neighborhood, they'll walk past that transformer and be aware of or even appreciate that sound."
On Sat., SoundWalk 2011 takes over Long Beach's East Village, between Fourth Street, Linden Avenue, First Street and Elm Avenue. The free fun starts at 5 p.m. From a Sept. 23 Heard Mentality blog post.