2003 AQ-LE01 Audio installation on the terrace of the Gothenburg City Art Museum
included in AGAINST ALL EVENS,
2nd Gothenburg Biennial 2003.
Curated by C.M. von Hausswolff.
Created and composed by John Duncan.
Processed and mixed at Scrutto by John Duncan.
Mastered at Scrutto by John Duncan.
Voice sources provided by the San Pietro Elementary School Choir, conducted by John Duncan.
Soloist: Timoti Toniutti
AQ-LE 01 CD released by Allquestions. Photographs © Giuliana Stefani.
Audio playback system designed by Giorgio Tomasini.
Galvanized steel towers provided by E.D. Knutsen.
Tower installation engineered and supervised by Peo Karlsson.
Sound projected from two separate audio systems mounted at the tops of galvanized steel towers, each 24 meters high, set up in front of the entrance to the Gothenburg city art museum. Each system is playing back parts of a piece composed for the installation using recordings from a 30-voice Italian children’s choir as audio sources. The 4-channel sound is reflected off the museum’s façade and the arched corridor immediately behind it, to create a multi-dimensional audio ‘cloud’ of modified voices that cluck their tongues, whisper, scream and howl to listeners standing on the terrace around and between the tower bases. The separate parts run 24 hours a day for 90 consecutive days, to constantly create new mixes without ever repeating.
The booklet’s photos, taken by Giuliana Stefani, show the towers in question standing stark against a dreary sky. They’re 24 meters high, with two speakers apiece pointed at the Gothenberg City Art Museum. During the city’s 2nd Biennial in 2003, these speakers projected the processed voices obtained from the San Pietro Elementary School Choir. At the exhibit the sounds streamed continuously and were subjected to further processing by the museum’s echoing corridor… The piece engenders surprise; so much of the sound has been tweaked into cloudy oblivion that it’s a shock when full-throated screams leap out of the mix. At other points the voices coalesce into masses of clucking tongues or muttering whispers, only to veer once more into unrecognizable territory. It’s possible to take this purely as a rich sonic experience, but for the booklet’s dedication to children who have been abused by adults. This echoes one of Duncan’s earliest pieces, “Happy Homes,” in which he called a radio psychologist on the air and related the emotional numbing he’d experienced after watching kids being brutalized by their parents on the bus.
— William Meyer, Signal To Noise no. 33, Spring 2004