Blog Image

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.

Varèse on composing

Initial thoughts Posted on 11 Mar, 2009 11:01AM

In the 1920’s Varèse
declared that his compositions were the result of “organised sound”, which he
later reflected upon and acknowledged that all music could be described as
“organised noise”. i’m quite interested in this distinction he makes between noise and sound..