Acoustic Bogota

Artist Ross Dalziel's weblog for his Artists Residency at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


"Transmission" was the final exhibition for Ross Dalziel's Artist Residency at Universidad de los Andes supported by British Council, Arts Council England and El Ministerio de Cultura de Distrital Bogota. It was a temporary sound and video installation and performance at Parque Virgilio Barco following 2 other interventions in the City Centre.

It led to a solo show at Preston Art Gallery in Preston , UK in June - August 2006 which took the form of video documentation, a multi channel sound installation and intervention at Preston Market.

Transmission Video
Folklorico Sound System Event Video
The Conversation Intervention Video

The exhibition consisted of a PureData patch making random selections from the archive of recordings I've made over the 3 month residency and then making equally random decisions over which of the 4 channels to distribute the audio to.

In addition there were 2 monitors displaying video documents of my interventions in the city. Folklorico Sound System, where a truck drove a sound system down the Septima of Bogota.

The space at Virgilio Barco has the acoustic effect of a whispering gallery, audio from one end of the half circle of the amphitheatre travels exactly to the opposite side. With some positioning of the 4 mid to high frequency speakers meant the sound travelled over the entire space. The bass frequencies travelled equally well.

One of the nicest effects of the installation was that from time to time the patch decided to play nothing, which meant you tuned in to the sounds that were already happening in the space. This was usually the time when the public would be compelled to clap or shout to hear the acoustic effect.

I turned the installation on at about 1pm and then the band Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto performed their versions of Love Will Tear Us Apart

Inti said something interesting about the sound system intervention, "Folklorico Sound System" . As it took place just after the Carnival/theatre festival it was like its status as a cultural event was almost negated. It provoked some responses but people seemed unsure of this status which I think was really interesting.

The idea was to somehow use sound through existing structures like the structure of the "folk " tradition of sound systems. This tradition is also one that takes place extensively in the countryside, so to bring this into play in an urban space caused another level of cultural play.

Of course the sound system tradition exists here in the city and has its links to structures of urban protest. To mix this with the apolitical nature of abstracted audio field recordings and the apolitical nature of the residency itself was also a nice irony.

Of course there is some political process at work in this project. The way one can use a city rather than make statements on it informed by your foreign outsider position is something I tried to explore. The success or failure of this is open to debate.

Love Will Tear Us Apart could be said to be making some kind of statement considering the performance at Virgilio Barco was on the anniversary of Gaitans death. It was also interesting in that the Biblioteca Virgilio Barco project is a utopic Parque "for the people".

The choice of song had this kind of reference maybe to past "troubles" of Colombia. More than that it was meant to be a song that was important to me personally when an adolescent in England and something I perceive as a folk and to offer it to interpretation and use the band as some kind of artwork was meant as a gesture of generosity somehow.

For me Folk is a creative process that exists outside of high culture or institutional processes. It has a DIY attitude and one that does not require formal or conventional education.

I wanted to make the installation (with its use of expensive USA laptop and PureData patch, classic high art/music materials) clash against this folk creativity and interpretation and make it become part of my study of the topology of the city though sound.

The generosity I mention is to do with this clash, allowing the installation to be infected and taken over by the band. When they finally finished to be left with the sound travelling around the space and the natural acoustics was really powerful.

Somehow the experience of the installation worked better after the band had finished. As if the band somehow framed it and embedded it into the city. This could well be only my experience, but after the party atmosphere generated by the band the installation settled in.

It was as if the PureData high aesthetics had been invited into a living room where it could relax and the audience with it and just listen without trying to decipher the "artwork".

The band and their interpretation of the material I gave them and my interpretation of the city was a nice relationship and helped me feel I had engaged somehow. It had become impossible to think I "knew" bogota but I had explored some parts of it and I hope the works reflected this in some way.

For me this residency was a fantastic opportunity to explore ways of using sound and a city. Playfulness is something I love and think is important in this kind of work with the city.

"No language just sound, That's all we need know"


At 1:44 AM, Blogger chris said...

I am still fairly inexperienced as an artist as i am in my final year of uni, though i have sold bits and pieces and i thought this course would be ideal for me. I found it very rewarding and i felt i learned allot about the wider world of art and how galleries go about buying pieces. It was also really nice to meet others who were trying to make a living from their work; network+ exam questions i definitely feel i picked up some valuable information from them. I thought the sales skills workshop proved to be effective for all who were there as it happens the majority of artists know very little about sales and marketing and i thought the training was delivered very effectively. All this for free, and practically on my doorstep was brilliant and i would recommend to anyone thinking of trying to make it as an artist. Many thanks to all who were involved.


Post a Comment

<< Home