Four Weeks with Sound

Fall has finally really begun, and the leaves are beginning to change. In Foundations of Studio Art, for the past two weeks, and the next two weeks, we are dedicating our time to creating sound art. We defined sound art as “a term for a diverse set of art practices which utilize sound and listening as the subject matter and material… Among the wide variety of forms that might be grouped within the category of sound art are: kinetic sounding sculpture, automatons, experimental radio, sound installations , guided sound-walks, instrument making, graphic scores, sound poetry, and video art,”  as defined by experimental sound artist Chris Reider. This project is titled Sound collage: A Garage Band and iMovie project. 

This project was designed to be a follow up to their most recent unit on sound waves in Physics, a class all freshman take. It is a built in part of our STEAM initiative to connect art with other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classes. Art and Design are the key to STEAM, and I will write more on this later. But for now, check out Rhode Island School of Design’s website on this fantastic initiative here: http://www.risd.edu/about/stem_to_steam/ But, our project wasn’t just inspired by the goings on in science class. We also had a little art history, and examined some of the works of John Cage, the famous sound artist and composer. He was very avant garde for his time and I wasn’t exposed to him until half way through collage, but these girls are incredibly intelligent. I saw no reason to not give their soon to be avant garde projects some real context. (Below is one of the videos we watched in class.)

As far as limitations and guidelines I was very specific in how I would grade each project. However, after each of these guidelines were met the students were encouraged to take their sound art in any direction they wanted. My expectations were as follows. Each group of two or three students had to create a 2-5 minute long video with their sound art as the soundtrack. The were expected to use garage band, itunes, and imovie to create their works of art. (These are all programs pre-loaded on their mac laptops) They were expected to focus on the elements texture, and space, and include at least one example of how sound can create the feeling of texture and how sound can create the illusion of space. They were also asked to focus on the principles variety and harmony. Variety so that it had audible interest, and harmony between two separate sounds. They were asked to include a moment of silence or meaningful silence as well as one found sound, and one sound they created themselves: a womanmade noise. Within these boundaries they were free to focus on whatever theme they liked. Although, with Halloween coming up, I’m afraid (literally) that many of these works of art might be scary.

Alternately, the fact that my students are connecting the power of sound with horror movies, just warms my heart. It means they are really paying attention and diving into this project head-on! I can’t wait to see the final results.

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Here are some more of the videos we watched in class

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9vvrSyAPuw (John Cage)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF1DoVdHM9M (John Cage)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjSabjZ1zdQ (Caught a Ghost)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZRBgIUC4lg (Sound Art Instilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMQxu3pe0J8&list=PLB9B4A00FC70FD6E3 (Sound Art Instilations)

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