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When Violins Were Trees: Resistance, Memory, and Performance in the Preparatory Experiments for Landscape Quartet, a Contemporary Environmental Sound Art Project

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Bennett Hogg


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For many years now I have been working with the idea that violins were once trees. From naïve early electroacoustic experiments designed to find “naturalistic” sounds in extended violin techniques, through a series of free improvisation projects, I have finally arrived at what I think of as the beginnings of a critical ecological practice with violins out in the natural environment. Dragging violins along paths, floating them in rivers, allowing rain to fall on them, and recording the results with small microphones hidden inside the bodies, I work in a participative way with the affordances of the environment, the instrument, and my own personal skills and memories. Conventional “soundscape” compositions and theories of acoustic ecology can, I argue, be seen to be neither particularly acoustic, nor particularly ecosystemic. Much environmental sound art ends up being simply representation, albeit in a sonic form. Against this, I argue for participation, a refusal to hide the presence of the artist, and a resisting against the idea of merely imposing an artistic and/or aesthetic vision onto the surface of an ecosystem.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hogg B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary Music Review

Year: 2013

Volume: 32

Issue: 2-03

Pages: 249-273

Online publication date: 15/05/2013

ISSN (print): 0749-4467

ISSN (electronic): 1477-2256

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/07494467.2013.775811


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