Sound: Behind The Language, Media and Desire

By: Vincentius ‘venzha‘ Christiawan

My work is based on my personal experiences. But, my personal experiences could be considered as part of our collective experience. My works uses sound as one of its primary elements. Audio/sound refer to an abstract level. As human beings, we have one sensitive tool in our body, and this is the ear. We are often touched by sound, coming from natural or digital sources. We usually relate more to the “words culture” than to the “sound culture”. Sound itself has an independent life.  That is why I am interested to explore it. The possibilities can explore the connection between sounds and between the levels of consciousness and unconsciousness. My work is based on my personal experiences, and I want to share a nuance from this exploration. That could be your experience, everybody’s experience. I believe art could view reality in its different sides. Therefore, through the sound I explore, I could share “something” behind the language, to open our sense of humanity.

Keywords: Art, New Media, Technology, Sound, Internet, Culture, Velocity, Humanity, Society

Technology : The system of tools and techniques by means of which people relate to their environment and secure their survival.
(Rubin, Arnold, Art as technology, Hillcrest Press, 1989, Technology: Rubin’s definition,  17, 184)

The rapid improvement will always undergo to the velocity between technology improvement and cultural value in society. The similarity that become the parameter is the result of that combination that touch to the whole its image life. Referring to that, it is important to learn the characteristic and the substance of the technology in order to understand its position and its activity.

Many scientists in their field has created an important thing dealing with appreciation and the inventions that has change people point of view toward many things including art and technology / new media art. The improvement of internet technology and its supporting element are one of the most significant element to answer many human needed of the information flow and communication. The easiness which is resulted bring us to the certain structure where support the value of ‘that velocity’

What is required to access this technology? Nearly every new computer on the market, Windows-based PC or Macintosh, has enough power to play multimedia files, combined with specialized software, which comes bundled with the system or available free of charge on the Web. The only hardware you may wish to add is memory, or RAM, the more the better, as multimedia applications become more sophisticated and memory hungry.
(Kettlewell, Ben, Electronic Music Pioneers, Pro Music Press, 2002, The internet, 238, 286)

Human in this earth always hunger of velocity to fulfill their need. Actually, art is the important key word in the improvement of technology. How is it explained? As the technology, art is the thought referring to the essence of human needed. It was the basic human needed of the aesthetic value and appreciation value. These combinations resulted that ‘art’ is a fundamental soul experience of everyone. Inevitably, deliberate or not.

How is ‘sound’?

Once more, by the times goes the development of human thought toward technology, the development of internet brings many opinion and supposition that internet refer to ‘medium’ rather than a ‘technology’. It would be better if we interpose the internet as the media that could be a bridge and answer the happening challenge.

For most people, the Internet is more of a medium than a technology. Moreover, it is a shape-shifting, borderless medium firmly in the hands of ordinary citizens bent on turning it to extraordinary ends. Revolution has become commonplace in our vocabulary, and so the real thing is often hard to recognize. But the stories in this book and in its companion website make it clear that nothing less is afoot on the internet today. From Inuit children doing their homework to Benedictine monks selling monastic fruitcake, this is the stuff of deep innovation and change. This is the domain of real people discovering new possibilities on the frontiers of cyberspace.
(Smolan, Rick, 24 hour in cyberspace, Que, Macmillan, 1996, Preface : Saffo, Paul, 17, 224)

Let’s describe the development of art nowadays by supposition of some new media art experts. It must be the long debate about it. The analogy is that the position of ‘new media art’ actually is the bridge and the place in order to do the activities and art work using the new media referring to the creative improvement and the innovation using aesthetic point of view. What is the aesthetic point of view? It was very abstract! What is the parameter?
Sound is one of the improving images of ‘new media art’. It will undergo many branches in creating, form, and of course the innovation. Here, we will try to feel how actually the value of human needed in aesthetic point of view will emerge in various creating character / creating process. Whether we will get the form of new awareness or we will find the other energy?
Or it will be the opposite of negative energy? We have to give the fundamental in the project or work by the systematic and logical pattern. Moreover, in this structure we will always encounter to the many situation where the branch of knowledge and the pattern that seldom very difficult to understand. Back to the discussion about the improvement of technology, there are so many person who has translated to the form of new art or certain innovation in this sound area. Who are they? Creator?, scientist?, artist?, musician?, or who else? I think asking about the identity is not relevant anymore to enter to this study.

We should imagine what will surprise us next. I’m not in the game of the expected. I like the idea of the dematerialization of identity, and I think it’s inevitable now. As people communicate more n more frequently and globally, they can invent new personas and identities – probably the first impulse is to imagine celebrity as being one of the great big deities of our time. But if celebrity is about mass media and mass contact, then at some point an anti-celebrity status and a way of behaving that destroys the celebrity, destroy the ego and the personality and identity until we do not exist, become revolutionary. Self-immolation.
(Shapiro, Peter, Modulation, A History of Electronic Music, Throbbing Words on Sound, Caipirinha, 2000, Interview : P-Orridge, Genesis, 65, 255)

New Language

Sound is a form of character by a million probabilities of genre and the way to enjoy. It provides many places and facilities for human being to choose and appreciate where appropriate to the level of human is needed and appreciation each person. Here is the form that is more than a “language”. It will be very difficult to understand the “language” which is daily language. This writing cannot explain what is “behind the language”. For instance, when we hear a certain ‘sound’ together in a room, in the same level, in the same importance so there will be a new language that can be simultaneously reveal that ‘sound’ have a certain power. When there is a power then the group of individual actually has a same sense to enjoy.

Technology will make or break us
Alienation produces eccentrics or revolutionaries
You must remember you have freedom of choice
(Jenny Holzer)
(Gestalten Verlag, Die, localizer 1.0, Die Gestalten & Chromapark, 1995, Prolog : Robert Klanten)

Why we interested to learn? Why we interested to make? Why we interested to analyze? Why we interested to combine? and why we interested to create? Why we interested to presented? The answer was in ‘the power’ itself. Desire will bring all the need and our dream to the one point where it had to reach. That point is the place where we can stand with the proud and the satisfied value. In this theme, ‘sound’ will be the pole as the substantial character by the whole supporting elements.

Today, the technologies of deception are developing more rapidly than the technologies of verification. Which mean we can use a television camera, plus special effects, plus computer, etc. to falsify reality so perfectly that no body can tell the difference. And the consequence of that eventually could be a society in which no body believes, everybody knows that seeing is not believing, and nobody believes anything. With the exception of a small minority that decides to believe one thing fanatically. And that’s a dangerous social/cultural situation.
One of the consequences of living through a period like this, which is in fact a revolutionary period, is that the entire structure of society and the processes of change become nonlinear.
(Shapiro, Peter, Modulation, A History of Electronic Music, Throbbing Words on Sound, Caipirinha, 2000, Epilogue : Interview, Alvin Toffler,  213, 255)

It is merely to remind when the ear snatches the certain ‘sound’ signal. What is actually happening? There are so many interrelations in the process of hearing, feeling, and even judging the certain form of ‘sound’. It is not merely the role of the ear. ‘Sound’ which is coming will produce the wave energy then sound wave enter to the tympanic membrane (ear drum), wave energy will change to the mechanic energy which is change then by Cochlea become an electric energy and continue by Auditory Nerves to the brain.
Herewith the brain by the whole ability and its miracle analyze and detected the source of the sound. One important thing in this point is in the “perception” toward one of the form of the sound sources or that “sound”. “Perception” is the important requirement for the human in using the “new language” as the language that can feel the essence itself.

In various work of sound project that we produce, it start from various possibilities soul experience and our daily as social creature. Human is in certain structure in certain culture. What is the background of emerging the ‘desire’?
According to the explanation and the description above, it is difficult to explain when the work are resulted (in the certain period after a work has to be done) or the ‘energy’ and ‘new language’ will felt when the working process of the work presented so that there are so many interaction. Here ‘sense of humanity’ happened and in this point a ‘new awareness’ will always produced…

Play a sound,
Play it for so long,
Until you feel that you should stop
Play a vibration in the rhythm of the universe,
Play a vibration in the rhythm of dreaming.
(Prendergast, Mark, The Ambient Century, from mahler to trance-the evolution of sound in the electronic age, Bloomsbury, 2000, Book One, The Electronic Landscape, 1, 500)


Yogyakarta, June 8, 2006
the house of natural fiber
yogyakarta new media art laboratory