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Sound Spill

The Exhibition

Nina Canell | Torsten Lauschmann | Guy Sherwin | Richard Sides

Sound Spill inaugurates a body of research into the curatorial problem of sound spill, an issue that is rarely addressed beyond its simple practicalities. By and large, efforts are made to minimise the aural complexity of sound from one work mixing with sound from another. This, to some degree, invariably fails. Artworks with an element of sound always impinge upon other works; they bleed into one another and interact. The focus of Sound Spill is precisely on the point at which they merge.

The four artworks presented in the Sound Spill all include an element of sound intrinsic to their conception without being their chief focus. The sound from each work, in this case, becomes a part in a larger acoustic composition that acts as both rationale for showing these works together and a creative process in itself.

The Designers Republic were invited to design a title to frame the exhibition based on the phrase "sound spill". Using ideas similar to those used in their renowned record sleeve designs they have produced a typographical abstraction in response to the words. The Designers Republic have been instrumental in the visual representation of experimental music since the early 90s, creating iconic artwork for Warp Records and bands such as Pop Will Eat Itself, Autechre and Aphex Twin.

A Context for Sound and Design: Responses

Initial thoughts Posted on 19 Apr, 2009 09:27PM


Whenever the difference between sound and noise is brought up, I’m reminded of a short essay written by Piet Mondrian in 1921 on Russolo and the Italian Bruiteurs. He writes that the “new reality in music is determined sound and noise.” In this way, “the composition’s exact appearance is ‘equivalent’ to the simultaneous and continuous fusion of natural sounds.” This “requires a constantly annulling opposition: destruction of repetition.”

I wonder if Mondrian was familiar with Varèse’s work. — Regardless, the “simultaneous and continuous fusion” that Mondrian attributes to the “sounds of nature” lends itself to the notion of Sound Spill, as does, Deleuze’s notion of “smooth spaces, composed from within strained space.” But, Deleuze is a figure, like the Designers Republic, that informs the experimental music context in the 90s in a weird way. The discourse surrounding Achim Szepanski’s labels Mille Plateaux & Ritornell are one example of this. So, I’m slightly apprehensive about invoking Deleuze, because his ideas – as they relate to experimental music – seem by relation to function at the level of design.

In 2002, Danish critic Jesper N. Jørgenson curated the group exhibition “Frequencies [Hz] – Audio-Visual Spaces” for the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. In Jørgenson’s catalogue essay, he writes that one of the defining characteristics of contemporary sound installation is the artists’ interdisciplinary approach, where the “activities in the fields of sound and art more than ever overlap one another, becoming an integrated expression within the framework” of “contemporary culture.” Here, the “inter-contextuality of artistic practice make it possible for the artists to shift between positions and professions with ease by positioning themselves in new contexts and collaborations inside and outside the art world.” — Angela Bulloch’s Dior flagship store in Osaka, Japan or Limiteazero’s collaboration with Tomato for Alberto Aspesi in Milan are two examples — Accordingly, the decisive competencies of artists working in sound are those “acquired outside the processes of direct production, in the ‘life world.'” In other words, professionalism and aesthetic production become integrated with “an aptitude for mastering information,” which accompanies a habitual mobility offered to artists by audiovisual media and communication technology. Design seems to be the word that best describes the fusion of these things. —

Perhaps “Sound Spill” observes the “inter-contextuality” of sound’s innate spatiality and structures it at the curatorial level — like Duchamp’s Sculpture Musicale, where the overlapping of sound itself becomes a kind of found object.


Noise is something objective and unknowable.
Or, it is pure surface. Sound, on the other hand, has certain spatial qualities.

For Varèse, this difference likely points to a movement away from an organizing principle that favors tonal relationships to one that embraces rhythm — Ionisation.

Richard Sides

Artists Posted on 19 Apr, 2009 04:16PM

Richard Sides works with a core of specific values or possibilities from which physical processes are generated, processes often concerned with an object’s relationship to its acoustic environment. His exploration is rooted in mathematics, aesthetics and structural identity and often produces audible objects.

Algorithms are used to generate acoustic patterns in Richard Sides’ An index of confused ideas (the impossibility of a realised
non-anthropocentric culture, reflections caught in the sun forever
, 2008. Panels of glass are carefully positioned over a number of nodes that are programmed to tap the glass forming a rhythmic composition that sets a tempo in the space.

Richard Sides lives and works in Sheffield. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. He exhibited recently in a solo exhibition at Bloc Space, Sheffield in Contested Ground at 176 Gallery, London and a partially joyless carrousel of quantics at Supplement Gallery, London.

Guy Sherwin

Artists Posted on 19 Apr, 2009 03:55PM

Guy Sherwin has been working with film for over three decades and has extensively investigated the unique qualities of analogue film as a medium, focussing on the relationship between sound, image and film in live performance. His influential experiments into film and sound provide a grounding for the ideas underpinning this exhibition and the processes and methodologies employed by the artists in the show.

The film Night Train 1979 is presented with a construction similar to the one used to create the soundtrack of the film. The additional ‘live’ sound track will be generated alongside the original.


Guy Sherwin lives and works in London. He studied painting at Chelsea School of Art in the late 1960s and taught printing and processing at the London Film-Maker’s Co-op during the mid-70s. His films have been shown at the Hayward Gallery, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

Torsten Lauschmann

Artists Posted on 19 Apr, 2009 03:43PM

Lauschmann is interested in the tension between logic and emotional life and in representing a truthfulness that can be created through any material, form, media or situation. He has a longstanding engagement with sound and music, exploring the mechanics of a diverse range of media and technologies, often using musical instruments and archive video footage in his work.

Torsten Lauschmann’s sculpture, Quality (Money Chord) is an old organ flipped upside down onto two £10 notes depressing key’s, which in turn play a chord. The perpetually sustained note sets a key and a mood in the space. In its shadow the artist has precisely projected various numbers of varying scale each in motion with a seemingly random trajectory.


Torsten Lauschmann was born in Germany and lives and works Glasgow. He studied Fine Art at Glasgow School or Art and exhibited most recently in solo exhibitions at Arnolfini, Bristol, GoMA, Glasgow and in Nought to Sixty at the ICA, London. He is represented by Mary Mary, Glasgow.

Nina Canell

Artists Posted on 19 Apr, 2009 03:38PM

Nina Canell works with everyday man made objects to create assemblages that ascribe to them a new function and status. Often incorporating audio-visual elements Canells work produces new associations and hierarchies between discrete objects. – Sally O’Reilly – Frieze Magazine, Issue 98

Canell’s video installation We Lost Wind depicts a saxophone player deep in a Swedish forest. The lone musician, wrapped-up against the winter cold has his saxophone buried – almost surgically grafted – into the cavity of a dead, hollow tree. The occasional blasts of the instrument, which irregularly puncture the otherwise peaceful ambient near-silence of the work, use the hollow tree as a resonator to broadcast the naturally amplified plaintive sound throughout the forest.


Nina Canell was born in Sweden and lives and works in Dublin and New York. She studied Fine Art at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire and has exhibited in Manifesta 7, Trentino-South Tyrol, Italy and Nought to Sixty at the ICA, London. She is represented by Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin.