Currently showing as part of The Independent Artist Fair 2013 at Mile End Pavilion, London, Annely to Zabludowicz (The Galleries Project) 2013 is an audio study of London art galleries, presented as a sound installation within its own exhibition space using Bowers & Wilkins speakers.
Sound artist Doug Haywood explains why sound is so important to his work.
Usually my work involves adding atmos and sound effects to film and it was with that mindset that I approached this project. What do galleries actually sound like and how do they differ from each other? Exploring these locations offers a fascinating insight into a range of spaces designed to show art, the way in which they are represented and how people respond to them. Attending a gallery can be like entering a museum, church, fashion boutique or unexpected funhouse.
During the summer of 2013, I visited a number of galleries to record the audio experience with concealed microphones. Attempting to create some form of unbiased structure to the investigation, I made a list from A to Z of potential spaces and visited each one. Entering through the front door, staying as long as I felt comfortable and necessary, I moved through the galleries, via lifts and stairs, witnessing the works on show, then exited. The sounds encountered with each experience were recorded as a stereo audio file.
These are places of contrasts and surprises revealing cultural and behavioural traits and attitudes. Foreign voices of the crowds at Tate Modern versus the echoing heels of the immaculately presented, all female staff, at Frith Street. Silent paintings meet sounds from kinetic sculptures and video works.
The sound of the environment within the gallery space contains a substantial amount of detail, often overlooked and disregarded, unless it is part of the work, even though it adds to the overall experience. Aside from the art on show, one hears fragments of conversations, birdsong, traffic, air conditioning units, footsteps, couriers, cash registers and computer beeps. These places may be privately owned or online, within a public space, accessed through doors, via lifts and staircases.
Being familiar locations, the experience of this sound installation challenges the viewer’s expectation and memories of each place, often sounding unlike what one would imagine.
It was important with this installation to be able to reproduce the field recordings as realistically as possible. Recognising that English engineering sets the benchmark of world class audio products, the high fidelity and clarity of Bowers & Wilkins speakers were an obvious choice. With their attention to sonic detail, the sleek CM9 towers would be essential to realise the true presentation of the work. In addition, the aesthetic of the cabinets and quality of craftsmanship fit perfectly into a fine art environment.
Showing until Sunday October 20 at TIAF, the atmos of other galleries is played back to occupy the immediate environment. The definition and identity of live diegetic sounds interact with the recordings, reproduced so clearly, that it often makes the experience spatially blurred and ambiguous.