Sound Art

Art, Music


Friday, February 24, 2017 – 6:00pm to 9:00pm

February’s Final Friday event features the work of nationally recognized sound artist, composer, musician, blogger, podcaster, professor, conductor, KNOBfest organizer, and general man-about-town Aleks Sturnfeld-Dunn. The gallery will be darkened, to create an entirely immersive environment, as the work is intended to be experienced aurally rather than visually.

The following is a list of the pieces, in the order they will be played. The text color corresponds to the color that will be projected in the gallery during the piece, so the audience may be aware of where they are in the program. The pieces range in duration from 5-15 minutes and the entire series will be on a continuous loop.

All five pieces are also available on soundcloud.

Born into a world of technology, what messages do we learn before we come to existence?

From the artist: Alpha Birthing Zone was a collaborative project as part of Nick Johnson’s modern dance production based on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Alpha Birthing Zone was written for the first scene that takes place in a pool and it is where the birthing of people take place. For this reason you hear random bits of propaganda spoken through out (by opera legend and friend Samuel Ramey), in order to “program” the pod people with their life philosophy. While the work was written as part of this modern dance program it was consecutively conceived as a piece of sound art. While the piece is certainly linear in it’s conception it was also meant to be immersive in it’s nature and can be absorbed in small chunks.

Sit in the sounds and see where the mind goes.

When I am composing my acoustic music I am always thinking of structure and line in a work. Every piece is crafted in a way to direct the listeners ears to specific moments and ultimately some climactic high point. Both Meditation I and Meditation II  were direct reactions to that type of creative process. These works became experiments in sound. How long could I sit in a sound world? What if the music had no direction?

How is form created with sound? Familiar sounds create shape while I long for the oceans I miss.

Musicwater is one of my earliest works for electronics. The idea of computer as a compositional instrument was new to me and in these early stages I spent a lot of time experimenting with sound, time, and form. Musicwater specifically was a test in both shape as well as static movement. The work is framed around the 17th century composer Handel’s famous work Watermusic and while it is chopped up manipulated throughout the work the exist as events for the listener to sit in. 

Spend time to listen to the incremental changes.

Free at last, free at last. God almighty, we are free at last.

Free was inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he famously proclaimed his wish to be “free at last”. As I was listening to his speech on the Washington Mall for what was perhaps my hundredth time I began to think about constraints I had put on myself as a composer and “artist”. I was a product of an artistic tradition that spoke about composition as a right and wrong way. Free became an experiment in breaking out of compositional sound world I had been living in. The entire work is generated from a single sound source, MLK saying the word free. That voice is manipulated and moved along the auditory spectrum to creates a sound environment to immerse the listener.

What is Sound Art? I am both a composer of classical music as well as a sound artist, and while the results might often be the same the intention between the two is very different (at least for me). When I conceive a piece of music, either acoustic or electronic, I am working to create a structure and narrative for the listener. I truly believe to understand one of my compositions fully you must be there at measure 1 and stay until the end. Sound Art is created with a different mindset. While these works have structure, shape, and at times even drama they are conceived with a more visual art aesthetic in mind. Primarily this means you don’t experience the piece from the beginning or stay until the end. Like looking at a painting you can stay with the work for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. The longer you stay the better you will understand the work, but hearing the totality of the work isn’t necessary to have some sort of listener experience. 

Fresh Roast Coffee Company coffee will be available beginning at 7PM, while supplies last.