The Lopez Museum is hosting Reverb, an exhibit focusing on sound art, and, you should go see it and hear it.
I know: what is sound art, right? Obviously, it’s art that uses sound, but is it like, music? Well, the short answer is no. A longer answer is that music is just one tree in the forest of sound, and that sound art is all about checking out the other trees.
I have a work in there. It’s called Bell, and it’s a metal cylinder ten feet in diameter, hung from the ceiling, and vibrated by an electromagnet. You duck inside the cylinder, give the walls a nudge, and listen. Stand close to the metal walls, it’s better.
Sound art is not new, by the way. An Italian guy called Russolo was composing with noise as far back as 1913. It is, however, still not very mainstream, especially in the Philippines. Reverb very possibly marks the first time a major Philippine Museum has devoted a show to it.
Lirio Salvador’s piece is a large, silvery, sculptural thing that looks as if the Terminator retooled himself as a guitar in the kitchen of a bicycle shop. Hopefully it will be plugged into an amplifier by the time you visit it. The Cavite noise collective, E.X.I.S.T., represents with a variety of sonic sculptures, some of which actually incorporate bits of the architecture.
By the way again: the Lopez doesn’t do the little white card thing. “Mixed media, size variable”, etc etc. They don’t do that. Instead, they give you a little folder with all our names and stuff. You’re supposed to consult it as you wander around.
Eric Ambata’s augmented reality piece displaces all sound to the cloud. His piece has QR codes – essentially 2D barcodes – that smartphones equipped with QR-reader apps can read. The idea is that taking a picture of the code will link you to the sound files in the cloud. I like the idea of roping the datasphere into the picture, although I suspect that many people will find the prerequisite of installing a QR-reader a bit fiddly. Still, the geeks who enjoy doing that kind of stuff can look for a reader here: http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/
There’re other works in there. There’s a work by IC Jaucian that reminds me of Dr. Seuss, and a work by Diokno Pasilan that plugs into an amp and looks like the love-child of a sitar and a canoe. There’s a massive mashup of sound-reproducing technologies by Kawayan de Guia that must weigh a good 300 pounds, and then there’s the VERY complicated piece by Christine Muyco involving microphones, a Macintosh, and odd bits of cookware that I must leave to the Lopez staff to explain.
Of course, relevant works from the museum’s permanent collection are all over the place, reflecting and commenting on all of the above. The curators Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez and her husband Claro, have made some interesting choices. Some of the paintings – like the one of Espana pointing out the dawn to the Philippines —I’d seen only as a picture. The context of the exhibit demanded that I try to imagine a soundscape around it, which was both surprising and fun. The Lopez Museum is open 8-5 every day except Sundays. Drop by and lend an ear.
Tad studied Zoology in the University of Hiroshima, and graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the University of the Philippines. He was a founding member of the seminal sound art band The Children of Cathode Ray and is a leading media artist who uses sound, video, programming and electronics in the creation of his films and installations, which have been exhibited in numerous local and international festivals and galleries. Email Tad at firstname.lastname@example.org.