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SEEING SOUND: SYNTHESISING AURAL AND VISUAL STRUCTURES IN CONTEMPORARY SCULPTURE BY ALEJANDRA MARTINO A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts i n Art History/Music Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Cris Hassold and Dr. Stephen Miles Sarasota, Florida May 2013
ii This thesis is dedicated to Francesca Luciana Ferrari Rojas Tijerina Martino. My sister M y role model M y guardian.
iii Acknowledgements There is one person to wh om I must accredit my successes: my sister. Francesca passed onto me a collection of life tools that have shaped me into the woman I am today. While she is the only one who will nev er read this acknowledgement, she plays an inspirational role in my life. She protected and nurtured me, and in turn I live for her. Thank you, sissy, for l iving your life to the fullest and encouraging me to take leaps, love unconditionally, and keep my head up, while never looking back. My parents, Richard and Cecilia Martino, have been a sturdy foundation on which I can always depend. Having you two as im mediate family created a safe environment that supported me when times were rough. Thank you for your warm, welcoming arms. I could not have accomplished this piece of academic work without the help from my committee members: Cris Hassold, Stephen Miles, and Malena Carrasco. Thank you for your patience and support during my time at New College and the thesis process. Claire Albiez, for being the most incredible friend I have ever come across. I have met my soul sister and I will always have nothing but ma d love for you. Ich liebe dich. Mar E chevarria for our strengthened relationship shared through our love of culture, Tim Richardson, for popping into my life during our final year at New College and showing me how terrible you are at being a bad friend. To all my other friends and family members that have been integral to my development and my environment. I hold a special place in my heart for each of you.
iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Content List of Figure v .. v i i Chapter One: garde Sound S .. Chapter Two: e alization of Sound S Chapter Three: Experimental M usic 34 Conclusion 48 (re)definitions .53 54 Works Cited ... 98
v List of Figures Figure 1: Zimoun 175 prepared dc motors, filler wire 1.0mm (2009 2010) dc motors, filler wire. 700 x 100 x 5 cm Figure 2: Paul Gauguin The Musician Schneklud (1894), oil on canvas. 73.5 x 52.5 cm Figure 3: Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis Fugue (1907) oil on canvas. 62.2 x 72.6 cm Figure 4: Wassily Kandinsky Impression III (Concert) (1911) oil on canvas. 77.5 x 100 cm Figure 5: Giacomo Balla Hand of the Violinist (1912) oil on canvas. 78.3 x 56 cm Figure 6: Luigi Russolo Intonarumori (1916) Figure 7: Harry Par tch Quadrangularis Reversum (1965) Figure 8: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Aluminum Piano (1962) Figure 9: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Hemisphere Musical Fountain (1968) Figure 10: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Inflatable Banjo (1952) Figure 11: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Sliding Clarinet (1958) Figure 12: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Half Moon (1995) Figure 13: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Five octaves concert Cristal (2000) Figure 14 14.2: Visitors playing Baschet instruments at the Inte rnational Exhibition in Osaka, Japan (1970) Figure 15: Children in Albi, France playing the Cristal Baschet (2009) Figure 16 Figure 17 Figure 18: Val Bertoia tapping on the concave gong Figure 19 19.2: Bertoia wobbling gong Figure 20: Bertoia singing bars Figure 21 21.2: Inside the Sonambient
vi Figure 22 22.3: Bertoia outdoor sound sculpture located in Chicago, Illinois (1975), c opper beryllium, brass and g ranite 487.68 cm Figure 23 transportable boxes (2011) Figure 25: Takeshisa Kosugi Micro I (1964 5) Figure 26: Zimoun 25 woodworms, wood, microphone, sound system (2009) Figure 27 27.2: Zimoun detail of 175 prepared dc motor / filler wire 1.0 mm (2009 2010 ) dc motors, filler wire. 700 x 100 x 5 cm Figure 28: Zimoun + Pe Lang 100 prepared dc motors and chains in wooden type cases (2008) dc motors, chains, wood painted white. 100 x 100 x 7.5 cm Figure 29: Sol LeWitt Modular Structure (1972) wood painted white. 61 x 61 x 97.8 cm Figure 30: Zimoun + Pe Lang 49 prepared vibration motors (2008) vibration motors, wood painted white. Var iable dimensions Figure 31: Umberto Boccioni Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) bronze. 121.9 x 15.5 x 91.4 cm Figure 32: Nick Cave Soundsuits (2012 2013), mixed media. Variable dimensions
vii SEEING SOUND: SYNTHESIS ING AURAL AND VISUAL STRUCTURES IN CONTEMPORARY SCULPTURE Alejandra Martino New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Sound art is a relatively new genre that includes both noise material and visual components. A subset of this is sound sculpture: three dimensional forms that are musical as well as aesthetic. This thesis identifies the qualities needed to create true sound sculptures, recognizes artists who satisfy such curriculum, and connects experimental music practices with contemporary sound sculpture. I argue for a more p recise definition of sound sculpture, where the two sensory components are balanced to form an unprecedented form of art. While I do not believe that the Baschet brothers are sound sculptors, I use their criteria for avant garde sound sculptors as a frame for my argument. (Fran ois b. 1920 and Bernard b. 1917 ) eight domains 1 where they as avant g arde artists break new gro und, I assert that Bertoia (1915 1978) and Zimoun (b. 1977) are recent artists who, without knowing them, fit into the sculpture. I consider Bertoia to be a bridge between the Baschet brothers and Zimoun. The Baschet b rothers began by creating essentially visually interesting instruments, 1 Fine arts, music, acoustics, environments, public participation, folding of metal into origami forms, education, and musical therapy
viii Bertoia expanded their work to create a balance between the visual and aural, and Zimoun extended this equilibrium into a monumental and diverse scale while still acknowledging the inh erent relationship between the two sensory components. Cris Hassold Art History Stephen Miles Music
Introduction Walking into a Ringling Museum gallery on a cool Florida day in January 2012, I was inundated with sensory stimulation. Surrounded by white walls with minimal black words outlining the current exhibition, my immediate thought was I had accidentally stumble d into an industrial factory of sorts, for I could hear the repetitive pattering of a light weight material before I saw with what it corresponded. Continuing further into the space, I discovered 175 prepared dc motors, filler wire 1.0mm (2009 2010) (Figur e 1), a sound sculpture consisting of motors affixed to the gallery surface connected with wires hanging that left markings on the wall as the motor spun. This minimal sculpture, which I discuss in detail in my third chapter that were present in this exhibition were a catalyst for an internal dialogue about the relationship between visual art and music. I had already been exposed to art forms that directly incorporated s (2011 New College alum) thesis, which explored the varied perspectives yielded when hearing occurred without seeing, or from my initial undergraduate thesis topic, which would have been an exploration of visual music in relation to modern art and modern music, specifically studying the real time interpretations produced in painting inspired from music and dance. However, what sparked a steadfast interest in Zimoun and the greater category of sound sculpture was the balanced relationship between the aural kinetic sculpture spun, it produced noise not as a by product but rather as an integral part yearned to learn more about sound art ; my research in thi s field ultimately led me to sound sculpture. This thesis is a presentation of my findings and argues that the nature of
2 sound sculpture is specifically both sound and sculpture which is how it is understood today. As an Art History and Music student at N ew College of Florida, I have always been interested in the similar movements each respective art has made throughout history, particularly in their relationship in the twentieth century. The aesthetics of sound sculpture have a strong foundation in music and art history, arguably beginning with genres to create a Gesamtkunstwerk a total, comprehensive, or what today would be termed a multimedia or interdisciplinary work of art 2 Moving from an integration of the ate elements of music into the two dimensional picture frame. Gauguin accentuated musical suggestiveness of colors and lines in his p aintings by avoiding sfumato and monochromy in favor for flatness and contouring of colors. His 1894 painting, The Musician Schneklud (Figure 2) is an example of Gauguin flattening the background and musi cian to bring attention to the musical properties of the cello; the artist vaguely paints the strings of the instrument further emphasizing its vitality. While Gauguin was a painter interested in musical properties, there are often artists who work in both a visual and aural field. An example of such an artist is Lithuanian painter composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. His Fugue (1907) (Figure 3) followed structural principles of music notation such as illustrating chord inversion and close harmony in polyphonal composition, in his use of repeated rows of pointed trees reflecting in the water. 2 Karin von Maur The Sound of Painting : Music in Modern Art. ( Munich: Prestel, 1999), 10.
3 Also occurring at the beginning of the twentieth in atonality and chromaticism, where his pieces did not have a tonal center. At this point, tonal harmony was being adjusted so that dissonance was becoming on par with consonance. In writing to August Macke, Franz Marc noted that Schoenberg did not 3 Schoe he acknowledged their importance in closer relations to the fundamental tone whe complicated. The overtones that are close to the fundamental tone are easier to discern by ear and therefore can be assimilated into the total sound without needing a resolution. Overtones that deviate from the fundam traditionally require some sort of harmonic resolution to lead the listener to audial stability. tonal center, the painters did not focu s on a coherent subject In fact, Kandinsky painted Impression III (Concert) Second String Quartet (1907 1920s, was also present in modern m usic, namely in the compositions of John Cage, a pupil of Schoenberg who will be discussed later, who relished the serialized method of twelve tones being emphasized equally. Karin von Maur recognized the relationship being formed in the early nineteenth c entury: 3 Ibid, 32
4 Thus the first decade of our century came to witness almost simultaneous revolutions in music and art. As Schoenberg was liberating composers from the system of tempered tonality, the painters were in the process of jettisoning the system of mimesi s and a unified spatial perspective. Both systems had been legitimated for centuries by masterpiece after overwhelming masterpiece, and had become canonized to the point that they were considered irrevocable absolutely essential elements of each respecti ve art. This explains the anarchic energy that had to be mustered in order to confront the overpowering force of tradition with a radical, liberating act. 4 I also see the Futurists as artists forging a connection between v isual and aural senses Carlo Carr The Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells (1913) is about the change in painting from Impressionistic to Futuristic. The painting of sounds, (light bl ues, pale greens, etc.), muted colors, mud colors, dead lines (vertical, horizontal, and perpendicular lines), static shapes, unities of time and place. The painting of sounds, noises, and smells desired qualities that evoked vivacity: reds that shout, gre ens and yellows that scream and are violent, colors of speed, joy, or carnivals, colors experienced in time and not in space, clash of acute angles, sphere, and echoes of lines in movements. Hand of the Violinist (1912) (Figure 5) consisting of repetitive sequencing and translucent color. painting, another Futuri with the progression of mo dern 4 Ibid, 41
5 music. Schoenberg had introduced dissonance as an acceptable function in music while Luigi Russolo strove to include all sounds as music. Russolo was originally a graphic artist with minimal violin and organ studies. He joined the Futurist movement in 1910, manifesto, The Art of Noises (1913), presented an audacious musical aesthetic for his 1971) considered him merely an amus ing eccentric 5 ; if music is sound, why must these sounds be limited by their timbre? He proposed using sounds made by people and animals, nature, and modern have musical or instr umental origins and those that come from the street, from industry or even from warfare. Russolo suggests that all these sound sources should be incorporated into the creation of a new form of music 6 Russolo was not talking about a new form of art based on sound, he was instead arguing about the extension of existing practices in music. He made several instruments that were composed of various colors and sizes with a horn protruding from the front. Russolo crafted the inside of his instruments with drums and drumskins and a single taut diaphragm; varying its tension allows for a scale of ten whole tones with it s respective intermediate semitones. A special chemical bath is used to achieve the proper sound produced by the diaphragm; variants would produce different desired noises which then could be altered in pitch by using the connected handle 5 Barclay Brown "The Noise Instruments of Luigi Russolo." Perspectives of New Music. 20.1 2 (1981 1982): 32 6 Tony Gibbs The Fundamentals of Sonic Art and Sound Design (Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2007), 23.
6 Russolo made multiple instruments, all of which fell into twelve different categories of noises (Figure 6). Each noise was created in three sizes, dependent on th e instrument: small, medium, and large. The following is a list and description of the twelve noises. 1. The howler: a noise between a traditional string instrument and a siren 2. The roarer: a rumbling noise in the low pitched instruments 3. The crac kler: a metallic crackling noise in the high pitched instruments; a strident metallic clashing in the low ones 4. The rubber: a metallic scraping sound 5. The hummer: a noise resembling the sound of an electric motor 6. The gurgler: a noise similar t 7. The hisser: a hissing or roaring noise like that produced by heavy rain 8. The whistler: a noise like the whistling or howling of the wind 9. The burster (1): a noise like that of an early automobile engine 10. The burster (2): a noise like the falling and shattering of dishes or pottery 11. The croaker: a noise like the croaking of frogs 12. The rustler: a noise resembling the rustling of leaves or of silk It is here with Russolo that my studies o f sound sculpture begin. The Futurist wanted to include the everyday noises as musical sounds. While his noise instruments were short another musician who was interested in the deve lopments Schoenberg made, created a new orchestra out of wood, metal, and glass in order to perform music he wrote using a 43
7 and for his particular scheme of composing, chose a set of 43 unequally spaced tones 7 Considering the sculptural quality as well as the sonic resonance, one could argue that sound sculpture has its original footing with Partch. Continuing in the mid twentieth century, the desire to expand the func tion of noise was systematically ramified and conjoined with a visual component. Franois and Bernard Baschet two French brothers consider sound sculptures. The brothers believ ed that they invented sound sculpture, but I argue differently. For me, a sound sculpture is an aesthetic work of art that has equally weighted visual and aural components which thus renders it active. The Baschet brothers created what they consider sound producing sculptures but what I see as experimental instruments. While some of their instruments are indeed kinetic, through my research it has become clear to me that they were more focused on aural capabilities than the visual result. The first section o f my thesis discusses the work of these brothers in detail. As I continued my research, I came across Harry Bertoia (1915 1978), a contemporary to the Baschet brothers. Although Bertoia never consider himself a sound sculptor, I think he fits into my defi nition the best. Bertoia only worked in sound for several years and usually adhered to the same motif: metal rods welded to a rectangular base. When activated, his sculptures produce harmonious sounds. Inside his Sonambient, a barn full of sounding objects one can interact with the multitude of different sculptures which would cause various pitches within a scale to be heard. It is in his simplicity 7 Sound: an exhibitio n of sound sculpture, instrument building and acoustically tuned spaces: Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, July 14 August 31, 1979, Project Studios 1, New York, September 30 November 18, 1979. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1979), 18
8 Bertoia created a balance between his visual and aural output. I elaborate more on him in the second chapter So how did sound sculpture progress from Bertoia to Zimoun? In my third section While Bertoia was working with harmonious sounds in his sculptures, experimental mu sicians were working with unconventional noises to constitute sound and the greater product of music. I believe that some credit must be given to Schoenberg, John Cage, and d Schoenberg, looked to use alternative objects as instruments and even prepared instruments; this alteration to traditional instrument yielded unusual yet harmonic percuss ion like sounds, an example being his 1946 48 Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano Cage studied with Schoenberg for two years, particularly fancying his twelve tone method until the student parted from his teacher to pursue his own interpretation of modern music (Schoenberg was more focused on harmony whereas Cage valued rhythm). He eventually became interested in chance and in removing his ego from the composing process. Sound sculpture is inherently based on chance but more specifically, contempora ry sound sculpture now can function with a wider gamut of alternative sounds to be heard and unpredictable beats to be experienced. With the increase in technologic al knowledge, artis ts are better equipped with innovative forms to produce art. The advent of camera allowed for an entirely new genre, not to mention paved a way for art to become more accessible to the general public.
9 Recording devices, too, help to pres erve and reproduce art, as well as being an integral component to an installation. The use of digital sound technology allowed the opportunity for anyone who is capable of controlling the technological medium to infinitely manipulate sound to create their own sound art. However, this is not what I am interested in and therefore will not be discussing in my thesis. When I first began my research, I was overwhelmed with possible routes and artists I could have discovered. Yet I constantly returned to what mad e me interested in sound art in the first place: Zimoun. While the Baschet brothers attempted to create an organic balance between the two senses, I believe that Bertoia and Zimoun successfully achieved this. This thesis is an exploration of the relationsh ip between a visual and aural component in sculptural form that creates an unprecedented direct and physical experience with its audience. The Baschet brothers claimed that they invented sound sculpture. In my first section I argue against this demonstrating to the reader that they instead cr eated a series of aesthetic and experimental instruments. However, the brothers did adhere to eight domains in which they believed avant garde artists persevered. I believe the majority of these areas were e ssential to the formation of sound sculpture and therefore subsequently deliberated in this same section. In my second section, I discuss Harry Bertoia, a modern sculptor who creates works that satisfy my definition of sound sculpture while inadvertently w contemporary sound sculpture with the progress of experimental music, claiming that the and Par tch) allowed an opportunity for their new music to be applicable to art of today. Cage influenced future experimentalists; however, I believe that his work can be
10 abstractly related to Zimoun, a contemporary sound sculptor. Through these examples I will pr ove that sound sculpture is an experiential art form that consists of an interdependent relationship engaging the aural and visual senses, has had an indigenous part of the musical past, and is not limited to any one generation or motif.
11 Chapter One: T garde Sound S culptors sound sculpture 8 The Baschet brothers claim that they invented sound sculpture. While I believe that they are significant figures in the creation and acceptance of sound sculpture, they do not fit into my definition of contemporary sound sculpture. I believe that fundamentally, sound sculpture balances aural and visual components in order to produce an art product that is interdependent; the sculptural without the noise (and vice versa) does not yield the sound sculptures the sounds produc ed vary in pitch and timbre due to the fact that they designed their pieces to be instruments with Aluminum Piano, Figure 8). Because different notes can be produced and the vi sual remains static, I believe that their sculptures are more instrumental than sculptural. The Baschet brothers were a mid twentieth century duo that were interested in the beauty in bringing sound and sculpture together to produce instruments that were accessible to the audience. Their works were specific to eight categories that provided an garde artists is to break new frontiers. We try to achieve this in the following domain s: fine arts, music, acoustics, environments, public participation, folding of metal into origami forms, 8 Comment peut on dfinir cet art nouveau? Si Calder a invent la sculpture mobile, nous avons invent les sculptures sonores Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ecouter par les Yeux: objects et environnements sonores (Paris: ARC 1980), 48. *All French to English translations are my own.
12 education, and musical therapy 9 Their education warranted an innovative approach to the joining of the sister arts. Franois Bas chet was born in Pari s in 1920. He trained with sculptors Emmanue l Auricoste and Hubert Yencesse and studied acoustics on his own. His brother, Bernard Baschet (b. 1917), studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale. The two brothers began their research into sound in 1952. They began by analyzing all existing instruments and later built dozens of unique musical sculptures. The brothers and Bernard Baschet want to make a synthesis of shapes, s ound, and public participation, making shapes and objects with music that can be produced manually (without electronics or electricity) so that anyone can play them 10 Noting that few instruments had been developed since the eighteenth century, the Baschet brothers used industrial materials to create dozens of sound sculptures. Since 1952, the Baschet brothers have tried to form a synthesis between sculpture and sounds for they recognize that a relationship exists between sounds and forms. Coming from a b ackground in sculpture, Franois, with the help of his engineer brother, Bernard, crafted innovative sculptures that were proportional and coherent. Aesthetically, tha t coherence came from the unity of materials, while beauty came from simple proportions between the different elements. Overall, the sculpture must be cohesive so that there are no hiccups in fluidity of the design when a viewer looks at it from a differen t angle. They never used found objects in their art. Their sculptures in total are 9 les domaines suivants : arts plastiques, musique, acoustique, environnements, participation du public, n, et thrapie musicale Ibid. 10 Alan Licht Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories (New York: Rizzoli, 2007), 254
13 varied in shapes and sizes, some designed to be outside sculptures placed within a fountain (such as their 1968 Hemisphere Musical Fountain, Figure 9) to others small enough to be held (like their 1952 Inflatable Banjo, Figure 10, or their 1958 Sliding Clarinet, Figure 11). Most of their sound sculptures are comparable in height to the patrons that interact with them (as seen in their 1995 Half Moon, Figure 12, which was actu ally created in order to produce a sound structure that had more visual character). Besides being visually interesting, the Baschet brothers stress an aural component that actually transforms their sculptures into instruments (like their Five octaves conce rt Cristal from 2000, Figure 13). The brothers created an ensemble that performed in various countries, such as the United States, Belgium, Germany, and France. Sonically, they craft their instruments to produce pleasant and harmonious sounds. The sound is produced when glass rods attached to the instrument are rubbed with moistened fingers. This produces friction and relaxation of friction with the water acting as rosin; this is a well known effect that Benjamin Franklin employed for his glass chord and ha rmonica. 11 The actual rods are too short to produce audible sounds: to the vibrating element proper the treaded metal rods. These rods are fixed to a horizontal metal bar, which integrates the different frequencies into wav es of high pressure and low amplitude. The series of rods, each determining the quality of the waves by its specific shape, constitute the modulating arrangement 12 The pitch of the instrument cannot be adjusted by ear because the waves inside the metal ar e inaudible until a resonator or amplifier releases the vibrations to the air. 11 "The Baschet Instruments: Structures for Sound." Music Educators Journal 52.4 (1966): 75. 12 Ibid
14 The Baschet brothers recognize that agreeable sounds are not easily attributed with fine sh apes Their devices represent a continuous process of forming an instrument that sati Sonorous Structures should be understood without analyzing their components or the impulses of their creation; their steadfast goal is reaching and discovering sounds and shapes. The work of the team i s directed to finding a new musical expression and a search for harmony between shapes, sounds, sculpture, music, light, poetry, and motion. The first two domains that they worked in, fine arts and music, were only the beginning to the advent of sonorous forms. Their next three areas are what I believe help to shape contemporary sound sculpture. Through my research I discovered a sculptor, Harry Bertoia, contemporary to the Baschet brothers whose work is independent yet parallel of theirs. 13 new medium (whether it be visual artists working with sound or composers incorporating visual forms into their pieces) and the greater category of sound sculpture. One component to t definition of contemporary sound sculpture is the acoustics. A principal to their works is avoiding the use of electricity or electronics; they conform to traditional, historical vantages of these structures over those that are electronic lies in the creation of new sounds: a) The physical contact of the performer with the vibration. b) 13 Travelling to Bally, PA in Octo informed me that this was in fact not the case: the artists exhibited once at the Ta ft Museum but had no interested in maintaining communication. I concluded that Harry was so invested in his sound experimentations that he unintentionally worked within the parameters of avant garde artists.
15 They can be used as decoration 14 The Baschet brothers assert that a sound sculpture is more eff ective when the use of technology is reduced. By doing so, an opportunity to create new sounds is produced. With the physical interaction involved, one can alter the noise produced by the sheer placement and variation with vibrations. This activity will be explored in the following section: my discussion of Harry Bertoia. The location of artworks is critical for the Baschet brothers. They believe that art is intended for everyone and should not be restricted to galleries. For them, this is the reason why t hey construct many of their works for the outdoors and in public places. based on computers, a rare way to protect humanity is to facilitate creativity. We are the fir st, or amongst the first, in the past 50 years, to make it possible for the public to play with our sculptures 15 The brothers sculpt their instruments in a way that it is easily attainable for non musicians to participate. In 1970, the brothers were a par t of an international exhibition in Osaka, Japan (well established sculptors were present, such as George Rickey and Jean Tinguely) where, as usual, they encouraged the audience to s an art form. The sculptor makes something, and musicians or visitors use it to create their own art. It is a double trigger operation 16 And while visitors can indeed create their own art, it is not to say that the music produced would be enjoyable to ou r ears. Franois Baschet 14 Muse d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 48. 15 cratif. Nous avons t les premiers, ou parmi les premiers, au dbut des annes 50, faire jouer le public sur nos sculptures. Ibid. 16 Franois and Bernard Baschet "Sound Sc ulpture: Sounds, Shapes, Public Participation, Education." Leonardo 20.2 (1987): 110.
16 aurally speaking. But this instance is a trial of discovery; the next time will ostensibly be better because the player would have already edu cated himself on the workings of the real it produces something else 17 Sound While I strongly agree that public participation is an important aspect to contemporary art, I find it even more fitting fo r sound art. Some artists call upon the public in various ways, but the Baschet brothers directly connect with the audience because they believe that it is es changing society. An interesting th component; that we should be able to make our own instruments. They crafted most of their instruments by hand bending sheet metal themselves They wanted to bring a new technique of folding sheet metal, similar to Japanese origami, to the art world. T h is process was essential to their works; the resonance of met al sheets depends on their curvature In particular, t he brothers broke ground with this new art within E ducation. This is critical for the formation and acceptance of sound art. Before the work of the Baschets, sound sculpture was still a new field and heavily criticized. Various artists in the past have worked in their own regard to shape how we ming an art form that balanced the two senses. They not only incorporated the public in order to facilitate their project they made explicit that sound exists as a form of visual art The brothers believe that i t is not necessary to be a musician to under stand sound sculpture: 17 Ibid.
17 Thirty years ago, in the classes, children were taught to create an object and then color it. Today, particularly in kindergarten, they are given colors in which they are free to use on paper however they wish. Little by little they create their frames as well as structuring themselves. In the same way, we have created sound sculptures that they can freely assemble without any knowledge of music theory. First the children learn how to listen, and then they play together. They learn a collective cooperation and respect for the other. 18 In 1983, the brothers held an educational exhibition in London at the Barbican Centre in could be combined to build 15 different instruments 19 Even today, their instruments are employed to mix education with artistic ability in French schools, such as in 2009 in Albi, France (Figure 15). I find that educating the public catalyzed the popularity of sound sculpture today. Then, when the Baschet brothers were physically involved, the artists had the opportunity to demonstrate to the viewer how the instrument could be played and how the performer could alter the results by varying methods. Now in th e twentieth century, their works are being used educationally to challenge the norms of traditional art and embrace the expansion into sound art that we are witnessing. 20 18 Il y a 30 ans, dans les classes, on apprenait aux enfants reproduire un objet et ensuite le colorier. projeter sur le papier. Petit petit ils structurent leurs tableaux et ainsi ils se structurent eux mmes. De jouer ensemble. Ils Muse d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 48. 19 Franois Baschet Les Sculptures Sonores: The Sound Sculptures of Bernard and Francois Baschet (Chelmsford, UK: Soundw orld Publishers, 1999), 134. 20 children, for most of their works were involved with children with serious problems. Art Therapy is an interesting component to the various uses of art, but is no way related to my thesis.
18 The first two components regarding my study of the Baschet brothers are also the two fundamental modules to sound sculpture: fine arts and music. It is known t hat all sound artists base their works off combining the two together. However, I am not interested in simple combi nations ; rather I seek to discover artists that forge sound sculpt ure to be a working relationship between our two senses. As I have lain out in this section, the Baschet brothers are more focused on the instrumental qualities their Their quest to produce instruments began in 1952, when Franois wanted to travel around the world with his instruments but had difficulty in transporting them. He created the inflatable guitar with collapsible neck so that it could fit comfortably in his suitcase. With his return to Paris, Franois was interested in t he technical mystery and wanted to solve it. Since my life as a cabaret performer left my days free, I used the time to take sculpture courses and haunt the technical libraries to study acoustics. I learned that the 18th and 19th century experts had disco vered a large number of acoustical phenomena that had only been applied to the saxophone and several electrical acoustic instruments so that 20th century music was being regularly played on 18th century instruments. It was like travelling by horse drawn ca rriage in the era of air planes. 21 Regarding the possibilities of acoustic instruments, it is clear that the Baschet brothers were significant in producing an entire oeuvre that extended from eighteenth century instruments to the creation of twentieth century acoustic instruments. From this 21 Fran ois Baschet "The Story." Les Sculptures Sonores Accessed 23 Sep 2012, http://francois.baschet.free.fr/story.htm.
19 discovery, the brothers experimented and trialed various forms until they found a basic model and adhered to it. enough liberty in choosing the form of the cones to bring them into the realm of visual aesthetics thus qualifying them as sculpture 22 While his instruments are indeed appealing to the eye, I maintain that they are not sculptures in the sense that we understand them to be. The Baschet brothers are not sound sculptors; they are experimentalists who worked in a way that paved a path for future, l egitimate sound sculptors. Their work was essential to the formation of a particular genre within sound mlined and focuses in on a specific method. It is one thing to create an artwork in an unrelated space, but with the advent of sound sculpture, components such as acoustics and location are just as important as the artistic quality produced. As for public participation, while physical interaction with an art product is not necessary, it enhances the experience to an unprecedented level that is not attainable with century, it was common to cry, catcall, or partake in riots during a performance. The audience directly interacted with the entertainers; they were considered as servants who performed purely for the enactment as an aesthetic experience. With the advent of virtuosic performances in the nineteenth century, th ere was a shift forming in the performer/spectator relationship. The audience retreated from realizing their opinions; the performers were now viewed on a pedestal, rendering the viewer passive. I believe the work of the Baschet brothers, being specificall y associated 22 Ibid
20 with public participation, is a signal to the art world encouraging it to be receptive to this rapport. Now a synthesis between performer and spectator is being created due to the sounding medium. A layman can activate the sounding object and alter it however he sees fit, while simultaneously having the opportunity to experience the performance. The aestheticism in contemporary art and while I think this is s tronger in experimental music than visual art, their work nonetheless paved a way for future artists to dabble in and eventually perfect art of this class. The only section of their last three domains that I find critical is education; the physical bendi ng of materials or the use of music in therapy, while interesting, are not education was essential in forming a recognizable art genre through the institution of art. oneself tha t sound art was criticized before it began to be accepted. By the Baschet and by recognizing themselves in var ious categories so blatantly (such as the fine arts and music), they have made it evident to their contemporary institution of art that they indeed are artists forming a new category between sound and sculpture. With their use of education, they informed n ot only their peers, but also future generations, that the sonic arts are a new art genre with predominant footings in the visual as well as aural. While the Baschet brothers claimed to have invented sound sculpture, their works show otherwise. Perhaps th ey were the first to attribute a name for this new art, but
21 work the brothers did in order to gain support and spread awareness of it did not go unnoticed. I believe that most of domains that they worked with set a standard for sound sculpture as we understand it today. The for this new art to be discussed and assimilated into the art world. Harry Bertoia unintentionally s ided with garde artists in his sonic oeuvre. In the following section, I will discuss this artist and his unique approach to sound sculpture.
22 culptures Although the Baschet brothers and Harry Bertoia were born roughly around the same time in Western Europe and ultimately were involved with sound art, I find started working with sound in 1952, but fine tuned their works in the early 60s. Bertoia, on the other hand, did not become involved with sound art until the early 1970s, and only worked in this field for approximately six years. The Baschet brothers and Bertoia exhibited once together at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, but besides this exhibition, the brothers and Bertoia did not correspond or collaborate. Bertoia did not see the Baschets as an influence; Bertoia felt his principal influence was nature. While these men wo rked within the same motif (sculptural forms existing as a sound source), their sound products varied. The Baschet brothers produced what I am terming as experimental instruments. Franois began his work in sounding sculptures when he needed to transport his instruments; therefore, first and foremost the brothers were interested in innovative ways that instrumental properties could be achieved. In contrast, Bertoia bec ame interested in sound when a metal rod that he was bending broke off and resonated as it flew away. After this incident, Bertoia strove to recreate that sound in a sustainable way. It is here in contrast that I find Ber toia to be a true sound regarding his sounding oeuvre, it is clear that he intended the sculptures to have a relationship with each other that highlight each of the differen t pitches (individually, each sound sculpture has a different tone but when played together one can discern separate
23 welded to a rectangular base; once activated, they m anifest experiential aural and visual traits that cannot be achieved through photographs or even video. A fundamental relationship that the Baschet brothers and Bertoia have is their interest in different ways art can engage the senses without the aid of electronics, which some of their contemporaries were using. Both were fascinated in the bridge between invisible, yet undeniably powerful dimension of sound an integral a spect of their work 23 Beyond the basic combination of aural and visual, the Baschet brothers and Bertoia were both interested in representing nature through artificial means. However, the work produced by the brothers was more futuristic and mechanical in feeling than that of Bertoia. Their similarities and differences were noted during their exhibition: Although Bertoia and the Baschets use different materials and techniques which result in a marked visual and audial contrast, they nonetheless share certa in basic qualities. Their sculptures are constructivist in method of assembly and in their dynamic penetration of the environment. With the exception of the Baschet harps, these sculptures are kinetic works actual movement is essential to the creation of their sounds. The Baschet brothers and Bertoia make their music without the elaborate electronic systems that characterize the works of sound sculptors like Howard Jones and Wen Ying Tsai. 24 Instead, they combine their substantial knowledge of the science of acoustics with innovative methods to create works 23 Sounds of sculpture : B. Baschet, H. Bertoia, F. Baschet. (Cincinnati: Taft Museum, 1976), 2. 24 Jones felt that as technology evolved, artists too needed to adapt and master these new mediums; his oeuvre uses all possible man made instruments to realize his vision. Similarly, Wen Ying Tsai works in this newer technological media. His sculptures are comprised of many devices that enhance the pieces: electric motors, light, and varied sound (recorded, feedback, microphone, etc.)
24 that produce an astonishing variety of sounds by simple, gentle, manual manipulation or by exposure to air or water currents. 25 Alt hough fundamentally different (the art produced by the Baschet brothers a re visually static and only function as instruments whereas Bertoia balances the interaction with two of our senses to produce a highly experiential entity), the works correlated in terms of intent. This section will discuss Bertoi garde sound sculpture and how Bertoia improved upon their original goal in order to produce a form of new sculpture that brings Harry Bertoia was born in 1915, in San Lorenzo, Italy where he was interested in drawing and music. In 1930, he moved to Detroit to attend Technical High School; here he took jewelry, handcrafts, drawing, and painting classes. Later he attended the Art Sch ool of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts where he studied painting and drawing. He developed a proficiency in metal crafting and he was awarded a scholarship at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He never attended classes in scul pture, and has always approached materials and techniques 26 In 1939, he began teaching metalworking techniques. As a result of the war in Europe, all metals except silver became diffic ult to obtain, so he became an expert silver craftsman. At Cranbook he had the opportunity to work in the print shop at night when no other students were around, experimenting with inks and woodblocks. He developed varied color prints and sent them to the Guggenheim in New York where the museum retained them and asked Bertoia for 25 Ibid. 26 June Kompass Nelson Harry Bertoia: Sculptor (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1970), 20.
25 prices. Given musical names by the director of the museum, nineteen of the monoprints were exhibited in 1943. He was awarded the Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Ar chitects in 1956. Bertoia continued to work in monoprints and furniture sculptures until his exploration into sound. According to his son, Val Bertoia, in 1968, Harry accidentally broke the aforementioned metal rod, which was a catalyst for his sound pie ces, and worked intently in this field until his death in 1978, spending his last years experimenting with sound. He considered himself an experimentalist and did not ascribe to a set genre of art. I believe that his lack of labeling allowed him to widen h is possibilities and work only in areas he was genuinely interested in. Bertoia is resolutely dedicated to working at his sculpture but always sees it within the larger framework of his complete life. His gentle sense of humor helps him maintain balance be tween his dedication to his art and the everyday commissions that interest him, refusing those that do not as well as those that conflict with prior commitments. Although his work is based unequivocally on aesthetic principles, his approach to it is a practical one. 27 unearthed: while other artists adhere to a specific art movement in order to cate gorize themselves, this new art is comprised of varied influences from over time which now renders a label unnecessary. While the Baschet brothers clearly stated that they invented sound sculpture, Bertoia never did. I assert that sound sculpture is an org anic and experiential process that enables the artist to produce freely without the hindrance of 27 Ibid, 24.
26 extension of themselves, rather their forms are rigid and do not allow for mu ch interpretation. In contrast, Bertoia does not qualify his art which leaves room for the audience to have varied readings of his sound sculptures. Growing up in the countryside of northern Italy, Bertoia drew inspiration from his natural surroundings. One can notice how his sculptures resemble components of the environment (Figure 16). His tendency to connect his art with the enriching milieu was noted by the Taft Museum: sculpt ural reputation has been largely built upon his unique ability to translate organic forms into metal, the precision and skill of his craftsmanship, and his innovative and non traditional methods of working with metal welding, spill casting, and direct fo rging. 28 Bertoia was interested in reproducing plants that he fondly remembered from his childhood while simultaneously imitating church bells that he heard rung every day. As for artists, he looked to Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, George Nakashima George Rickey, and Alexander Calder for insp i ration discovering his own kinetic and abstract niche early on. Bertoia created three different types of sound pieces: the largest category being vertical rods welded into bases realized hundredfold in diff erent sizes, gongs of various shapes and sizes, as well as a handful of singing bars suspended from the ceiling. The by their construction, allow for variations of sound achieved by even the slightest al terations (Figure 17). By adjusting 28 Sound s of Sculpture, 5.
27 leaves to the peal of cathedral bells 29 Bertoia has two types of gongs 30 the first being constructed with two concave sheets of me tal leaving an interior air space which allows for a range of tones (Figure 18). His second form of gong is a single sheet of metal with geometric cut outs, specifically a slit down one side that allows for a wobbling effect when activated (Figure 19). For his singing bars, Bertoia connected two short rods that sway and ring and different intervals, invoking the simplistic power and beauty of chance (Figure 20). sculptures are the m ost experiential and are the forms I will discuss. One of the reasons why they are so experiential is a result of their interaction with the environment. Bertoia produced hundreds of sounding sculptures, mainly as experimentations to see what forms yielded sculptures are in his Sonambient barn (Figure 21) or outside his home nested among natural surroundings. For Bertoia the environment was an essential component of the final product; this thousands of artistic products, only a handful of them reside in a gallery space. In the same way that the Baschet bro thers have large outside sounding pieces, Bertoia has an outdoor sound sculpture in Chicago that sits in a low fountain and is activated by the breezy weather (Figure 22). Like the Baschets, Bertoia intended his sound sculptures to be in accessible areas and for them to belong to the public. 29 Ibid. 30 Bertoia also has one additional, massive gong outside the Sonambient ; however, this is not typical to his oeuvre and was only a project he did with his son, Val. An image of it is in my Figures page between Figure 17 and Figure 18.
28 Bertoia believed that his art belonged to everybody, hence why he never signed or named his pieces. Most of his works seen so far are easily relatable to the user. Even his towering sound sculptures are still accessible to the viewer. His intention was for his sc ulptures to stand alone as individual pieces and directly communicate with the observer without a predetermined title. Bertoia felt that by eliminating a name to the piece, each person would have the opportunity to form their own interpretations of each pi ece without being influenced by the thought process of the artist. His sculptures have the tendency to connect man with his environment and universe. As June Kompass Nelson, author of Harry Bertoia: Sculptor states: An intellectual exercise is perhaps the one phrase best suited to generalize about mind from a well formulated but constantly evolving idea or concept based on his perception, not on observation, of nature and was brought to fulfillment through the exercise of his intelligence in making decisions during the process of creation. This is why his work has such a strong appeal to the intellect. It represents an intellectual process leading toward the universal in a rt. 31 Bertoia would often dream of designs and immediately sketch what he imagined at the breakfast table, after which he returned to his studio where he cut metal according to the latest drawing (Figure 23). Specifically for his sound sculptures, Bertoia w as inspired by the natural kinetics trees and plants possess and the refreshing sounds heard when wind 31 Nelson. Harry Bertoia: Sculptor 48.
29 interacts with them. This idea is not original, thus allowing others to relate to the concept; however, he achieves his goal in an unusual way. 32 The ac He never used electronics in his works and was interested in the pure sound that derived from pure chance. He was fascinated how free form metal could yield unpredictable orbits. In o rder to enhance the sound, he often left his sound sculptures in their wooden transportable boxes (Figure 24). After realizing his interest in combining sounds, he fabricated the Sonambient, a barn that mixes sound and environment by housing about a hundre d sounding sculptures so that the walls of the barn would thus act as an amplifying device. The notion of environment and acoustics facilitates public participation. Besides the handful of large thers and the public is even encouraged to interact with them. Eliminating the use of technology separates his sound sculptures from traditional historic instruments to a new level of instrumentation, rendering them accessible to the layman. During the exh ibition at the Taft Museum, patrons were able to experience the ephemeral art objects: To realize their fullest potential, these sounding pieces require the active participation of the viewer. As they are played, the senses of sight and sound are joined by touch as the tactile qualities of these sculptures add to our appreciation of them. Through their interactions with us and ours with them, we become 32 Artists dabbled in kinetic sculpture at the beginning of the twentieth Bicycle Wheel Realist ic Manifesto ) but it was not until mid century did Alexander Calder and George Rickey pioneer the genre. this model a step forward to incorporate sounds tha t he believed mimicked his environment.
30 increasingly sensitive to the seemingly simple yet beautiful sounds and forms existing in our own everyday environment. 33 And Bertoia does not restrict the user as to how he can interact with them. The sound sculptures can be touched gently, banged together loudly, or strummed below as if they were harps. Because the sculptures are essentially very simple, thos e witnessing them create a definite song or melody, he would rather leave the sculptural experience up to the audience 34 With this new form of sonorous sculpture, each o ne has its own natural life. As Nancy Schiffer says: spontaneous, fresh, without spatial or temporal limitations. This eliminates error. This eliminates virtuosity. It releases the musician as well as t he listener 35 Harry Bertoia has thus created a sculptural form of experiential art, one that allows each performance to be unique and according to the will and desire of the performer, but more importantly challenges the user to reconsider art norms (such as the definition of music). In my opinion, the Baschet brothers are more focused on aural aspects than visual. However, for Bertoia, the sounding component is secondary to the effect produced once the sound sculpture is engaged. This is not to say that he left sound completely up to chance. In fact, o n several occasions, after completing a sound sculpture and testing it to hear its sound, he would scrap the piece entirely and start over if the sound did not come out as what he considered to be a pure so und. In his process, Bertoia decided first on proportions and how the kinetic sculpture would move. After this was established, he experimented with different metals in order to find which ones were the best to produce 33 Sounds of Sculpture, 2. 34 Nancy, Schiffer The World of Bertoia (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2003), 183. 35 Ibid, 185.
31 sound. Most of his works are in bronz e but found beryllium copper, brass, nickel alloy, and monel to be good sound producers. He al ways welded them to a brass base ; the brass deadens the sound and forces the vibrations to resonate upwards and outwards instead of into the ground. For the weld, he used silver because he believed that this was one of the best carriers of sound. Once a sound sculpture is activated, the sounding component takes on a life of its own. When activating one piece, one can aurally follow the path that the sculpture tak es; it begins with a loud clang until it eventually, and slowly, resonates to nothing. When interacting with multiple pieces, there is an orchestra of sounds as each sound sculpture releases its note whenever the object allows it; mean ing, individually the sculpture operate on its own accord, producing noise when they see fit: Each sounding piece is an individual and their sounds run an equally wide gamut, ranging from faint and delicate, harp like tones to the awful power and majesty of medieval church bel ls; from the soft rustle of dried grasses to the clatter of ice laden limbs knocking together in a winter wind. One tone seems to take on shapes; it contains space as well as other sounds. Another may drift or evaporate while across the room a sound is pen dant, caught in midair and immutable. 36 Sonambient There were about on e hundred sounding pieces of various sizes constituting the different pitches. Val had limited control of each sound sculpture; he interacted with them by strumming, pushing, hitting, or clumping them together where they bounce outwards. Each sound sculptu re is full of musical life and when played 36 Ibid, 190.
32 together produces an array of sounds. The beauty of the pieces lies in their invariability. A different pitch accompanies the different sound sculptures, so when several are played, it is possible to hear an array of combinations, from dreadful to harmonious. When all the sounds seem to fall together perfectly, which happened for majority of the performance, a wave of serenity flushed my body. Being inside the Sonambient while Val performed was an exhilarating experience. The sculptures continued to interact with its user and their rods signal its crescendo. As a sound sculpture finishes its resonation, it resembles a thunderstorm petering off. The performance was never really over. The sound sculptures would c ontinue to resonate as we left the barn to see more sculptures located outside. Coming from his lifelong interest in music joined with his talents in sculpting, Harry Bertoia created sculptures that shiver and shake as they produce sounds. His sound scul ptures are all proportional to each other; it is the distance between each rod that determines the rhythm. As the rods sway they form diverse visual patterns recalling 37 form is visual music. While we hear the progressing tones, we witness the change as it doing so offers a new experience for the viewer: The actual, physical motion of the rod s of the sculpture creates the sound, which is related to the avant garde music of the twentieth century, while evoking as well as the visual sense is unusual in sculpture and stems from a desire to 38 37 Sounds of Sculpture, 2. 38 Nelson. Harry Bertoia: Sculptor, 49.
33 Harry Bertoia has thus been a critical artist is the formation of sound sculpture. Although he only worked in sound for the last portion of his career/life, he crafted his soun d sculptures in a way that relates man to instrument/art object in order to create a new art. research it has become apparent that the artists that I find to work within a bal ance between aural and visual do not ascribe to a label. W hat purpose does identifying oneself serve in an art society where manifestos are of the past? In contemporary art, there is more attention on the individual rather than a movement. The art world is more interested The Baschet brothers had six areas where they persevered which I believe helped to shape the acceptance of sound sculpture: fine arts, music, acoustics, environmen ts, publ ic participation, and education; the last being important insofar as it set a precedent for audience s comprehension While Bertoia did not look to these brothers as an influence, it is obvious to me that the first five categories were a common the me between this group of artists. Bertoia unknowingly fit into these criteria for avant garde sound artists. The work of the Baschet brothers was a starting point for sound sculpture. Bertoia worked within this area while honing in on the relationship betw een aural and visual. He strengthened this rapport by establishing it to be interdependent; the swaying rods that constitute the kinetic component are the same tool that forms the sounds Bertoia has created a basic form of visual music (contemporary visua l music is much more sophisticated, technologically speaking). Considering the era that Bertoia worked in sound, it seems only logical for there to be no use of electronics. However, as experimentations in sound art progress, the use of minimal electricity could be
34 implemented to enhance the fundamental link between the two senses into a monumental form. I will discuss such work seen in contemporary art in my next section.
35 Chapter Three: culpture Around the same time that the Baschet brothers and Harry Bertoia were experimenting with sonic sculptural forms, another sort of experimentation was occurring. In the music world, composers were working towards redefining sound in a relatively unconvention al way; artists were introducing ambient sounds and what we century music can be understood as instrumental properties producing what we know as notes. However, this word was r edefined through the workings of experimental musicians. 39 sound sculpture focusing on one artist in particular. John Cage, the pioneer of experimental music, expanded sound (both instrument produced noise and the everyday noise) to include silence. Cage discovered that silence does not really exist. He demonstrated this in his 1952 piece, where a pianist sat at his instrument for three mo vements and did not play a single note. Instead, the final composition consisted of the uneasiness of the audience, the whispering and other noises made amongst each other, and all ambient sounds in the space such as the activity of the lights or the noise of electronics whirring. At its time, However, this piece was the prelude to a redefinition of sound which led to new music 39 As an art history and music student, I believe the traditional definitions of these varied words no longer suffice. Through my studies and research for this thesis, I have learned that new definitions need to be formed in order to accommodate the changes in the art definitio ns can be found after my conclusion.
36 that influenced the acceptance and understandi ng of contemporary sound sculpture; Cage made sound relate to every noise around us. Cage combined a traditional musical framework with ordinary environments; this not only connected his work closer to the listener but also included them in the performance. The setting and audience now functions as determining factors to the work; they ar e aspects of the musical material. This piece was an investigation of silence and how it affected its audience. He mobilized silence so that found sound now constituted the composition. As a Zen Buddhist his goal was to remove his ego from the composing p rocess so that sound could be truly liberated. Cage works in a manner similar to removal of self is also used by Zimoun, an artist that I will discuss towards the end of thi s section. Cage contextualized music and the composing process by creating an opportunity for noise to exist as anything and leaving what decisions needed to be made up to chance. He created a setting for a series of sounds (which is now understood to incl ude noise and silence) intended for whoever wanted to receive it thus compelling his contemporaries to rethink musical norms. to late 1960s 40 Now, parameters and situations are incorporated into the making and presentation of the work itself. This creates a new art form, one that de viates from exhibition of art product to an art context that is brought into focus. 40 Brandon LaBelle Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (New York: Continuum, 2010), 15.
37 Chance procedure and audience contribution became increasingly essential to Cage as contributing elements to his art thus making spatial and contextual practice a precede motivated other artists to rethink their composing process but also played a role in the development in its spatial dependent and install ation based, visual counterpart: It seems important to situate such deve for music composition, performance, and method, and by extension the acoustical, function as prime media in such lineage. In this way, it is my interest to remind art history, as it evaluates and writes the devel opments of contextual and spatial privileged place for it but to recognize its position as a feature within such legacy. This, in turn, has another, more theoretical assertion an d proposal: to figure sound practice as a distinct field that may lend itself to the modalities of thinking about space and the function of art in general. 41 In terms of sound sculpture, the progression of mid twentieth century musical practice helped to sh ape the progression of sonic three in liberating sound and silence, artists now have a wider gamut in which to work. Russolo created rudimentary instruments that recreated everyday sounds, the Baschet brothers formed visually interesting instruments, and Harry Bertoia sculpted hundreds of sound sculptures that incorporate different tones. While Russolo and the Baschet brothers worked within sound art, it was Bertoia who legitimately sculpted sound. His works are more h 41 Ibid, 50.
38 experimental music, sound art now has the opportunity to encompass different noises into its production sphere. ts that eventually music but the members were interested in such a variety of things that it was their sheer diversity that brought them together. While they had their d ifferences, one common goal between different media 42 The term intermedia was introduced by Dick Higgins in his 1966 essay in which he describes an art form intended for those who disregard the boundary between art and life. If there cannot be a boundary between art and life, there cannot be boundaries between art forms and art forms. For purposes of history, of discussion, of distinction, one can refer to separate a rt forms, but the meaning of intermedia is that our time often calls for art forms that draw on the roots of several media, growing into new hybrids. 43 The ultimate objective of intermedia was to not restrict artistry when adhering to a specific art form. R ather, one should incorporate several artistic interests to create an organic entity that has not been acknowledged before. Fluxus members limited their use of technology in order to control their artistic output to identify with the processes of nature. Their method leaves more room for 42 Nyman, Michael. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. Second Edition. (Camridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 79. 43 Ken Friedman ed. The Fluxus Reader (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1998), 248.
39 interpretation by and engagement of the audience. Flux artists believed that the fewer artificial extremities there were, the more organic an art product would be. The Fluxus group does not strive for intricate and elabor ate designs but rather they welco me the beauty of pure artistry: Fluxus suggests approaches that are simple rather than simplistic. The level of dictated by available technolog y. This is an important difference in a technological age. It distinguishes Fluxus forms as humanistic forms forms determined by the artist rather than by the tools. The idea of simplicity owes as much to the Fluxus refusal to distinguish between art and life as to the intellectual applications, but to an art of subtle ideas. Some of those ideas have been complex, but few have been complicated. Many have been simple. Few hav e been simplistic. 44 The power of a Flux event lies in its ability to be understood vastly different ly depending on who is receiving it. Those who comprehend the Fluxus ideals can identify the concept behind the project. For the layman who encounters a Flux event, he will form whatever ideas and opinions that have been created through social construct or his surrounding environ ment in order to put to words what he just experienced. Flux artists are not intending to stump those unrelated to Fluxus, rather the 44 Ibid, 239.
40 remain limited to those in the art world. 45 Music is no longer a passive experience (as noted in nineteenth century performances); modern music in cludes the active audience member. Cage introduced the use of duration, sound, and silence to form a musical experience rather than harmony, rhythm, and melody. As Friedman points out: lead the listener through places the listener in the vertically structured space of synchrony this moment in time. And time, as we have come to know it in this century, is interdependent with space 46 Music is now con tingent on the instant as it occurs and place in which it operates. As Cage has engaged the audience in the present, so does Fluxus. Their works are incredibly time based. Any event that one attends will yield different results, any minor detail could chan ge depending on the acoustics, performer, or even the audience. Every event has the potential to be different. Friedman, a seminal figure in Fluxus as both composer and writer documenting the movement, stated that there are twelve criteria to a Flux piece: globalism, unity of art and life, intermedia, experimentalism, chance, playfulness, simplicity, implicativeness, exemplativism, specificity, presence in time, and musicality. As long as the works strongly relate to majority of these elements, the Fluxus p ossibilities are endless. At this point I would like to form some connections between Fluxus and more contemporary art. We have reached a point in the art world where artists are dabbling in 45 George Maciunas Fluxus Manifesto Can be found in the images document between Figures 24 & 25. 46 Friedman 96.
41 various medias and steering away from forming manifestos asser ting why their art form is the epitome of a total dissolution of art or forcing themselves to remain together and practice within the same parameters until their genre has been trumped by another. Art is now being made as a happening, as a total package, as an once in a lifetime experience. While this idea is not new, it certainly did not simply appear out of thin air. pursuits. Within the art world each musical or arti stic genre that comes and goes inherently influences future artists. Perhaps Fluxus is not a direct influence on contemporary art, but rather a subtle start to something new. For example, Takehisa Kosugi, a Fluxus artist who composed between 1964 5, wrote Micro I (Figure 25) which consisted of a microphone wrapped with a sheet of paper. The performance was the amplified creaking and cracking of paper as it unfolds gradually according to its own momentum. This Flux event is comparable to a contemporary: Zimo 25 woodworms, wood, microphone, sound system (2009) (Figure 26) The two pieces are similar in that the main component is a microphone and the composition is dependent on the noises produced by the secondary nitial exploration of what musical properties can be achieved when something simplistic as paper unfolding is amplified and heard differently. This Fluxus event is time requires the audience to rethink the m undane. While Zimoun is our contemporary, I must argue that his composition is more chance of paper to be folded (by a human) on top of a microphone whereas Zimoun amplified the sound of a piece of wood in order to demonstrate its vitality piece the
42 noise product is entirely dependent on the worms moving inside. T his piece holds experimental qualities from being time and chance bound to removing the artist further from the final product. In my op inion, it would have been inevitable for some forms and aspects of Fluxus and experimental music to be present in the life and education of contemporary artists. If John Cage influenced Fluxus, then Fluxus must have played, even the slightest a role in th e formation of art as we understand it today. While wacky, Fluxus purports solid concepts that were not commonly practiced before hand With Fluxus events, we have become comfortable with laughing at the art product, being physically involved in the outcome of the product, and most importantly unattainable concept for laymen. Overall, I would describe Fluxus as an explosion of experimental music methods and procedures that attempted to encompass such a wide range of medium s and criteria that it ended up becoming chaotic, albeit artistic. My hypothesis is that Fluxus did in fact facilitate a different progression of art. Perhaps Fluxus needed to be unconventional in order for future artists to build from the ground up, knowi ng that they have greater freedom than before having witnessed what Fluxus artists produced. While Cage introduced silences as music, Fluxus demonstrated that ordinary and simple events, when following a score, are performances. Fluxus was an opportunity f or writers, ar tists, musicians, and other producers to attempt new methods so as to produce new results; which in turn can function as a starting point for future artistic and musical endeavors.
43 I find strong similarities between contemporary experimental music and Zimoun, a contemporary sound sculptor. Zimoun, born in 1971, in Bern, Switzerland, often creates works that are monumental in size but simple in form, consisting of acoustic sculptural properties combined with an industrial design, signaling his serialized, the phenomenological and hybridized 47 This inherent curiosity between two entities that form a hybrid of sorts is a basis for the workings of sound sculpture: their essential quality is to balance an aural compon ent to a visual. Zimoun utilizes highly dense clusters of actuators (a type of motor), solenoids (coil that converts energy), and other noisemaking devices which enable the audience to become immersed in a sound field. Because of the simplistic forms Zimou n uses, nature and its elements are recognizable features, which places the works between being serious and playful. reception is dependent on the perception of its viewers, Zimo un wavers in a uniform and structured fashion between producing sound sculptures that are simple yet complex. For example, his 175 prepared dc motor / filler wire 1.0 mm (2009 2010) (Figure 1), which is now owned by the Ringling Museum of Art, consists of rows of mounted DC motors with filler wires attached, forming a dense analogous texture that vibrates and pulsates with and against each other. Tristan Louth Robins notes: performs the same functions (simply spinning a single wi re), so that when operating collectively the single parts transform (in a manner not unlike an insect swarm) to 47 Lilly Wei "Less than Transient, More than Phenomena: Tim Knowles, Pe Lang + Zimoun, Unpredictable Forms of Sound and Motion Bitforms gallery. New York. January 24 March 7, 2009." ETC 87. (2009): 60.
44 resemble an organic, amorphous structure 48 When regarding his setup, one could state that his process is simple: wire attached to motor and whe n activated the wire moves. However, upon witnessing the interaction the wires have with each other, it becomes apparent how unique the overall experience is. In my opinion, both visual and aural components of this piece have complexity. As the wires spin they leave behind markings on the wall, the thickest and most concentrated being at the bottom where the wire has the most force as it spins and gradually thins out as the markings reach closer to the DC motor (Figure 27). Because of its experiential fun ction, this sculpture will appear different every time a person views it. The force of the motor combined with lightness of the filler wires presents us with a lively performance. The wires interact with the wall and each other as if they were dancing. Whe n viewed from a side point of view, the wires resemble the legs of a dancer sporadically kicking out. Aurally, this sculpture resembles a persistent, heavy rainstorm. varies their f unction depending on what qualities can be achieved. For example, working with Pe Lang (b. 1974), the two artists created 100 prepared dc motors and chains in wooden type cases (2008) (Figure 28) which is a series of wall mounted white boxes each with a sp series consisting of DC motors driving a sound emitting mechanism placed at equal distances in a space), this sound sculpture has a simplistic industrial design that yields a visual form full of vitality. The chains resemble dancing worms, if such a thing could 48 Tristan Louth Robins Still and Moving Lines: Listening and Signification in Sound Art (Diss. University of Adelaide, 2010), 46.
45 ever exist. When regarding an individual box, one can notice how the chain is never stationary and is constantly changing its form. The continuous kinetic function of the motor allows the chain to delicately move around the box, even extend ing sometimes outside the box : a structure that one would traditionally consider the picture frame. In a way, the chain reaches out to its viewer ; its presence acknowledges the shift from kine tic sculpture that produces sound to a sound sculpture, an entity that functions by relating to its user. In viewing the sound sculpture as a whole, the chains are seen in lesser detail which really accentuates my dancing worm interpretation. The forms ro tate in a multitude of ways causing the overall image to appear as a concrete frame with a wavering center. I can also draw a homey feel from the piece; the way the small rod between two tiny black wheels rotate the key chains resembles a sewing machine m oving the thread up and down. The noise produced is calming, recalling times spent inside due to a steady rainstorm. In my opinion, t he thin silver chain that dances with it self evokes feminine qualities: delicacy and subtleness. This sound sculpture recal ls minimalistic tendencies. The piece, around three and enlarged, industrialized Joseph Cornell, partitioned into 100 divisions 49 I cannot help but to bring to mind LeWitt made a shift from partially concealed space within a space to stripping away the exteriority, so m uch as abolish the distinction between inside and out, by recourse to a 49
46 form of linearism 50 While Zimoun began his career years after the Minimalism 100 prepared dc motors and chains in wooden type ca ses similarly challenges the two dimensional flat picture frame in preference for a more experiential piece. Because each motor has its own box, it therefore has its own acoustical amplifier. The waterfall like white noise resembles light weight marbles r olling down a thin machine shop hustle and bustle hum 51 As the entire ensemble rattles and rolls, the chains are never synchronized juxtaposing their uniform look to their in dividual concert or laptop music 52 Overall the piece is calming in its simplistic form yet visually exciting for its ever changing and relatively unpredictable movements. Another sound sculpture created in collaboration with Pe Lang is 49 prepared vibration motors (2008) (Figure 30). Here, the motors directly cause the action. Red and blue wires are threaded through a board and dangle below it weighted with a miniscule, vibrating motor. The two primary colors stand in stark contrast to each other but mix well when activated. At first the wires slightly sway back and forth, making minimal movements due to their vibrating ends, producing a harsh sound that could resemble an electric razor. In order for the sculpture to become activated someone must pluck one of the motorized wires: a chain reaction of movements and entanglements begins. There are two portions to this piece. The aural component derives from the vibrating moto rs 50 David Batchelor Minimalism. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 36. 51 Miguel Negro Strategies in Diffuse Spatialization (Diss. Institute of Sonology, 2010), 21. 52
47 attached to the dangling wires. Even after 49 prepared vibration motors is activated, the noise from the motors remains constant. However, the visual aspect is in a state of flux. The movements start off slowly but quickly escalate to what seems to be p ure turmoil between the wires. As they chaotically bounce around, they inadvertently become mixed with other wires resembling humans scrambling in a time of confusion and fearfulness. The wires move so much that the board, which is suspended from the ceili ng, also moves slightly contributing an overall uneasiness and instabilit y This sound sculpture is a commentary of craziness and commotion. The connectivity. Altogether, as literal interpretations of buzz, they are witty visualizations of our products, ourselves going crazy, twenty first century urbanites can all relate to 53 does not have the same rigid rectilinear configuration as traditionally seen in his works. It seems like the minimal structure that this sound sculpture does possess serves as a metaphor for a structured society in a Western world ; the multiple wires convey humans too preoccupied with themselves to be bothered with the concerns of others. The wires do not move in accord with each other instead acting as individuals violently crashing into each other according to their own agenda thus signifying the chaotic state in wh ich we exist. experimental music. Now that sound has been liberated to include the noises and n order to 53 Ibid
48 produce a representation of the life surrounding the creator. Zimoun unintentionally follows the garde sound sculptors. While the brothers believe that the use of electronics is not needed, I believe that in the twenty motors is simple and minimal and only contributes to the greater goal: the creation of sculptural forms that represent sounds from life in an experien tial way. Sound sculpture exists today as a unique experience that incorporates the functions of the everyday, forming a distinct and new opportunity for artistic endeavors in contemporary art.
49 Conclusion This thesis topic started off as a discovery of the unknown. Before seeing the temporary Zimoun exhibition at the Ringling Museum, I had never experienced an art form that was as engulfing as sound sculpture. Throughout my education as an art history stude nt, I had often come across two dimensional representations of music; particularly the early twentieth century painting tradition heeds musical representation and suggestiveness of sounds. I often wondered how a tangible aural representation could be reali zed. Similarly, my studies as a music student sometimes left me craving for more stimulation, for I felt that the music could be better understood if we did not rely only on the ear. Personally, I find a dance performance more engaging than something that only utilizes one of the senses; I believe an art viewing experience is heighten when we have multiple stimuli to process. At New College, I took a kinetic sculpture class where I discovered the possible vitality of three Uni que Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) (Figure 31) is the earliest sculpture that comes to mind that hints at motion; it is a snapshot of a figure walking forward. Kinetic sculpture, which proliferated some forty years later, allows for artists to bring m ovement to their ideas. In my sculpture class, we were taught the fundamentals of how to vitalize an inanimate object. After learning these tools, I was ever fascinated with kinetic sculpture, and my interest only heightened as I continued to explore the r elationship between modern art and modern music. Yet I could not seem to satisfy my search. My question became: how could someone incorporate music and movement in a sustainable art form? After researching and writing this thesis, it all seems so clear; however, it was not this obvious to me a year ago.
50 Through my studies and thesis research I have learned that sou nd art is a broad term to categorize art that uses sound in one form or another. A subset of this is sound sculpture, which is an even more difficult genre to describe. Many critics and artists continuously redefine this field of art, tweaking it however t hey see fit. I, too, have fallen into this paradox of nee ding to outline this varied art but I think it is necessary in order for my reader to comprehend my train of thought. For me, the definition is simple; I think relationship with each other. As discussed in reference to Russolo and Cage, I consider sound to be all noises, whether the audible kind or the lack thereof. Many would disagree with me, but as a student with a fasci nation for experimental music (I have even composed some myself) it would be absurd to negate all that I know about the liberation of sound in preference for a standard definition of it. In a modern sense, sculpture is a three dimensional object that has a esthetic qualities from all sides and was conceived under an idea and is not necessarily representational. Bearing in mind that the production when considering the ways deduce that sound sculpture is an organic relationship between aural and visual that renders its state active due to its movement. In other words because kinetics is required to sound the sculpture, having a sust ainable method of noise producers allows for a dynamic display of motion and noise, transforming a then passive viewing process in to an experiential art form. It is through my research and writing of this thesis that I was able to form such a strong unders tanding of this new art. I enjoyed learning about the noise makers of Russolo, and seeing how the atonality compositions of Schoenberg affected modern
51 music. Because both men worked in the beginning of the twentieth century, it seems fitting that they woul d be the foundation from which future artists to work. I see all the artists discussed in my thesis to be a morph of their predecessors I was originally elated when I learned of the instruments of the Baschet brothers, but these works did not fulfill what that there would be a multitude of preceding artists working within the same motif. Digging through countless databases and library catalogues, I finally came across Ber toia, an artist who I believe to be one of the earliest sound sculptors. I am not discrediting the work of the Baschet brothers; rather I am arguing that their avant garde guidelines were more important to contemporary art than their instruments themselves They forged a way for future sound artists to break new frontiers. And Bertoia did just that. His sound sculptures intrigue me; I find them to be beautifully simplistic. Once they are activated, the viewer watches its semi unpredictable motion as he list ens to the sound orchestra housed in his Sonambient in the flesh was one of the most worthwhile experiences for me during this thesis writing process. While I endo rse all the artworks most highly recommend. Even though I see Bertoia as a modern sound sculptor and Zimoun as a contemporary, how are the two related? At first glance, their sound sculptures seem starkly different, but I beg to differ. Through music history, musicians have been reworking their interpretation of music to better fit the world around them and to further delineate from past practices. So why not consider the progression of the sister arts together? The s
52 consider noise, but given the recent trend in modern music, I can safely say that this artist sensor or physical interaction. Once the sculpture has begun its movement, only time will sound sculptures are intriguing in their design. For the most part, his sculptures hav e a skeleton that remains static while activity is powered by many DC motors. While relationship of static and active in one frame shows a favor of linearism. I find Zimou n to be an exceptional example of a contemporary sound sculptor. I believe that the artists outlined in this thesis all worked in their own unique way to build the genre of sound sculpture into how it functions today. Each artist had his own prerogative; however, they were all resolutely interested in finding new modes to express themselves. Their new medium was a hybrid of aural and visual; the artists I discussed employed radical methods that were often criticized at its advent but were soon accepted as a multitude of other avant garde artists began working in sound art. 54 Today, sound sculpture is a striking art form that encompasses two senses and renders the art viewing process active; patrons to the sculptures witness an experiential function that is n ot as present in modern art, but is becoming increasingly more common with contemporary art How will sound sculpture affect the future art world? I imagine the ideals of public interaction, the use of intermedia, and the rendering of a traditionally stati c art product as active to influence the future. Already we have seen performance art engaging our visual 54 In fact, through my research I discovered man y contemporary sound artists that work in this motif in their own creative fashion, so much that I was overwhelmed with information and how I should approach the thesis writing process.
53 Soundsuits (Figure 32). Only time will tell how future artists will mold t hemselves as they progress in their works while being influenced by the past. All I know is that I am eager to witness the change and see the transformation of the ever contemporary art world.
54 (re)definitions The following are words that I have redefin ed according to my thesis. The definitions derive from my own thought process, Merriam Webster and Grove Music O nline. Noise n. a collection of elements that one can discern, whether harmonious or jarring, aurally Music n. the ordering and variation of tones to form a correlation between them Sound n. a n auditory entity that exists in its most basic form as a particular impression perceived by the ear Sculpture n. a three dimensional form that is aesthetically appealing from all sides and in regards to modernity, though t provoking Sound art n. blanket term to encompass varied experimental artistic forays that incorporate noise in whatever fashion; often results in a static visual Sounding sculpture n. an aesthetic three dimension al form whose kinetics produce noise Sound sculpture n. an artistic sculptural form grounded in an interdependent relationship of the aural and visual senses; the sculpture is often active and possess experiential qualities; can be considered a rudiment ary version of visual music
55 Figure 1: Zimoun 175 prepared dc motors, filler wire 1.0mm (2009 2010)
56 Figure 2: Gauguin The Musician Schneklud (1894)
57 Figure 3: Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis Fugue (1907)
58 Figure 4: Kandinsky Impression III (Concert) (1911)
59 Figure 5: Balla Hand of the Violinist (1912)
60 Figure 6: R ussolo Intonarumori (1916)
61 Figure 7: Harry Partch Quadrangularis Reversum (1965)
62 Figure 8: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Aluminum Piano (1962)
63 Figure 9: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Hemisphere Musical Fountain (1968)
64 Figure 10: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Inflatable Banjo (1952)
65 Figure 11: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Sliding Clarinet ( 1958)
66 Figure 12: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Half Moon (1995)
67 Figure 13: Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Five octaves concert Cristal (2000)
68 Figure 14: Visitors playing a Baschet instrument at the International Exhibition in Osaka, Japan (1970)
69 Figure 14.2: A Visitor playing a Baschet tune percussion instrument at the International Exhibition in Osaka, Japan (1970)
70 Figure 15: Children in Albi France playing the Cristal Baschet (2009)
72 Figure 16.2: A Bertoia sound sculpture resembling the tree behind it
73 Figure 16.3: Bertoia sound sculpture resembling a bush
74 Figure 16.4: Bertoia sound sculpture resembling reeds
75 Figure 16.5: Bertoia sculpture resembling a dandelion
76 Figure 17: Bertoia sound sculpture
77 Figure 17.2: Bertoia sound sculpture
78 Figure 17.3: Bertoia sound sculpture
79 Footnoted Figure: Val Bertoia showing me the resonance capabilities of a gong outside the Sonambient (2011)
80 Figure 18: Val Bertoia tapping on the concave gong
81 Figure 19: Bertoia wobbling gong Figure 19.2: Bertoia wobbling gong detail
82 Figure 20: Bertoia singing bars
83 Figure 21: Inside the Sonambient
84 Figure 21.2: Harry Bertoia playing his sound sculptures inside the Sonambient
85 Figure 22: Bertoia outdoor sound sculpture located in Chicago, Illinois
86 Figure 22.3: Detail of outdoor sound sculpture Figure 22.2: Bertoia with his outdoor sound sculpture
88 sketched realized
89 Figure 24: Val Bertoia showing me the acoustic workings of the sound
90 Footnoted figure: Fluxus Manifesto (1963)
91 Figure 25: Takeshisa Kosugi Micro I (1964 5)
92 Figure 26: Zimoun 25 woodworms, wood, microphone, sound system (2009)
93 Figure 27: Zimoun detail of 175 prepared dc motor / filler wire 1.0 mm (2009 2010 ) Figure 27.2: Zimoun detail of 175 prepared dc motor / filler wire 1.0 mm (2009 2010 )
94 Figure 28: Zimoun + Pe Lang 100 prepared dc motors and chains in wooden type cases (2008)
95 Figure 29: Sol LeWitt Modular Structure (1972)
96 Figure 30: Zimoun + Pe Lange 49 prepa red vibration motors (2008)
97 Figure 31: Boccioni Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913)
98 Figure 32: Nick Cave Soundsuits (2012 2013)
99 Works Cited Baschet, Fran ois. Les Sculptures Sonores: The Sound Sculptures of Bernard and Fran ois Baschet Chelmsford, UK: Soundworld Publishers, 1999. Baschet, Fran ois. "The Story." Les Sculptures Sonores Accessed 23 Sep 2012.
100 Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ecouter par les Yeux: objects et environnements sonores Paris: ARC, 1980. Negro, Miguel. Strategies in Diffuse Spatialization Diss. Institute of Sonology, 2010. Nelson, June Kompass. Harry Bertoia: Sculptor Detroit : Wayne State University Press, 1970. Nyman, Michael. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. Second Edition. Camridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Schiffer, Nancy. The World of Bertoia Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2003. Sound: an exhibition of sound sculpture, instrument buil ding and acoustically tuned spaces: Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, July 14 August 31, 1979, Project Studios 1, New York, September 30 November 18, 1979. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1979. Sounds of sculpture : B. Ba schet, H. Bertoia, F. Baschet. Cincinnati: Taft Museum, 1976. Wei, Lilly. "Less than Transient, More than Phenomena: Tim Knowles, Pe Lang + Zimoun, Unpredictable Forms of Sound and Motion Bitforms gallery. New York. January 24 March 7, 2009." ETC 87. (2009): 59 60.