Sounds of Silence
Photo by SumakoOptions for the future-music setare a little limited now, says Dr. Frauke von der Horst: "Piss poor?" she asks, unsure if OC Weekly can print words like that. "Okay, go with it. But I don't want to just stop at 'piss poor.'"
Instead, Frauke and friends in Long Beach art collective FLOOD—probably best known for 2002's "Reception-Perception-Deception," a pomo send-up of boho gallery fetishization—started the Long Beach SoundWalk, the aural counterpart to the Broadlind neighborhood's longstanding ArtWalk. This Saturday night, it'll be speakers and tape spools instead of gesso and canvas, as well as an ambitious event—the transformation of an entire neighborhood's sonic landscape—that will noisily announce Long Beach's art scene to the rest of the world. Says participating experimental musician Sumako, "Every arts community wants its signature something."
Open bookstore co-proprietor Shea M. Gauer and Pall Mall-smoking art history professor von der Horst (along with such FLOOD members as Kamran Assadi, Scott Peterson and Shelley RuggThorp) had been involved with few smaller-scale audio installations (anyone remember Gauer and Assadi's Car-tet, parked on the corner of First and Elm and being REAL LOUD?) notched on their megaphones before they dedicated this summer to organizing the SoundWalk as a response to the already-interesting native-neighborhood sounds (somewhere between Ocean Breeze and Traffic Jam, they say), as well as a chance to give a diffuse Southern California experimental-music scene some welcome focus: "There is a need for something new," says Sumako. "And when you talk to people, their first question is: 'There's a place for this?'"
"Sound pieces bleed together if they're put in the same room—they don't lend themselves to exhibitions," says von der Horst. "They need their own sound space. And, for something of this format, many different locations."
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"Like a whole neighborhood," says Gauer.
The specifics of the 30-ish (not counting unscheduled guerrilla installations, if any) pieces scattered through four square blocks are deliberately murky right now, though there was talk of several FM transmitters hiding somewhere, and the California National Bank was progressive enough to lend its already-striking architecture to some sort of sonic sculpture. But the artists involved—from 10-year vets Spastic Colon, performing that night at Koo's, to KXLU DJs and students from UC Irvine, Cal State Long Beach, Otis and Cal Arts to members of Long Beach band the Grand Elegance—picked out their spots almost two months ago during a group walk through the neighborhood that had artists cocking ears into alleys and tapping tentatively on dumpsters. And von der Horst and Gauer can't wait to hear it.
"We told them to look everywhere, on every alley and every street—that anything is possible," says Gauer.
"But now it's like the time before Christmas, when you see the packages but you don't know what's in them yet," says von der Horst. "We're bringing surprise to the environment."
Soundwalk 2004 between Broadway and Ocean and Elm and Atlantic in the East Village Arts District, Long Beach; www.soundwalk.org. Sat., 6-10 p.m. Maps available at Koo's, 530 E. Broadway, or Open Bookstore, 144 Linden, on the night of the event. Reception, 5-6 p.m.; Closing performances, 10-11 p.m. At Koo's. Free.
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