The sound sculpture "Listening Is Making Sense" uses wooden beams as vectors for the propagation of sound vibrations diffused through the wood by tactile transducers (loudspeakers that convert the audio signal into mechanical vibration). The transducers are positioned in the barycenter of the structures so that the sound can propagate by contact through the beams and change its frequencies and dynamics according to the different properties of filtering and absorption of the sound waves by the wood. The sculpture is apparently silent and the only way to listen to it is therefore to get into physical contact with the resonant matter by placing the ear straight onto the wood.
What did you create?
We're used to the fact that sound propagates through air, but the waves (the energy) that we call sound can spread through any matter. With this sculpture I wanted the audience to experience an uncommon approach to sound listening, by making the sound spread along the length of a series of wooden beams, creating a sort of wooden audio circuit. The sculpture is apparently silent and the only way to listen to it is by getting into physical contact with the resonant matter therefore by placing the ear straight onto the wood. It can be enjoyed by many visitors at the same time encouraging interaction and dialogue with the object and between other people. The sculpture also has a strong spacial impact in the exhibition room because of its dimensions and its quasi-architectural structure that, at first glance, appears random, just like a large scale mikado toy but instead has an inner organization. This is what at first catches the audience's attention, but the real goal of the sculpture is to be physically used and therefore to be sonically experienced.
Why did you make it?
It is the act of listening the very essence of “Listening Is Making Sense”. This sculpture aims at breaking the visual barrier between the artwork and the visitors encouraging them to connect and interact with it discovering a new dimension, that of sound. The sculpture’s visual dimension is completed by the sound experience that becomes the conceptual core of the work. The large wooden beam mikado-like structure has a strong spacial impact on the exhibition room as well as on the audience. Its aesthetic intentionally recalls some installation of Minimalism and Arte Povera. Those works were intended to be perceived in their primary structures in interaction with their surroundings. What I was interested to do was to stimulate the audience to experience the artwork in a more physical and intimate way, to let them find out it’s secretly “alive” inside because there’s sound flowing – like a lymph – in it. The sculpture is not (only) meant to be walked around and looked at, but it’s meant to be listened to just by touching it with the ears on the wooden beams and feeling the inner vibrations. The sound played in the beams is a composition of natural sounds that were digitally reprocessed to create a waving abstract sound that might recall the idea of lymph flowing in the wood.
How did you make it?
Since 2010 several versions of the sculpture were made, with different size and format of beams, usually a number of 10-12 smooth pine wood construction beams (the length variated between 3 to 4,5 m). The challenge was to create a sculpture that is only apparently silent but that instead has its very own sound that can be heard only by placing our ear on its structure. The composition of the wooden beams is not visually driven but it’s driven by structure: the aim is to create a stable architectural structure in which each beam is counterbalanced with others; some beams have to jut out to invite the audience to easily lay their ears on them to listen to the sound. This structure must create a sort of wooden audio circuit because the sound vibrations are diffused through the wood by tactile transducers (loudspeakers that convert the audio signal into mechanical vibration). The transducers are placed in the barycenter of the sculpture and not visible to the audience; the monophonic sound propagates by contact through the beams and changes its frequencies and dynamics according to the different properties of filtering and absorption of the sound waves by the wood, therefore the audience experiences slight sound variations in each wooden beam.
Your entry’s specification
Materials: 12 wooden beams (12x20x430cm each), transducers, audio system Dimensions: variable dimensions – duration 68min. loop Several versions of the sculpture were made, with different size and format of beams, usually a number of 10-12 smooth pine wood construction beams (the length variated between 3 to 4,5 m). Each time the sculpture is made specifically for the exhibition space. Therefore the dimensions may vary, the diameter takes approximately an area of 4 to 6 meters. The weight of the work depends on the type of wood and the dimensions of the beams; it may vary approximately from 300 up to 500 kilos.