BARELY 01

2007 Sound Installation @ Ultima Festival

Project Team: Natasha Barrett (Composition and Sound Design), Daniel Coll i Capdevila, Andrea di Stefano, Michael U. Hensel, Aleksandra Jaeschke, Birger Sevaldson (Project Coordination), Defne Sunguroğlu with Kim Baumann Larsen. Construction Team: Carl Nilssen-Love, Sandor Agyagasi, Daniel Nytoft Berlin. Rigging: Håkon Klementsen, Oslo Kru. Supported by Arts Council Norway, Ultima 2007, Font for utøvende Kunstnere, NoTam.

Barely is a paradigm of composition, sound-art and multi-media that creates a highly detailed, perceptual layer just above the ‘experienced threshold’ of our senses in both the immediate ‘real-time’ substance and in a temporal context of structure and syntax. The complexity of our everyday stimuli tends to a state of noise – not only in terms of sound but also in all information received by our senses. Barely entices the individual into deep attention, concentration and sensual experience by offering detail at a level that is only just perceptual, enhancing what is already present in both the individual and the location of the work. In terms of both substance and concept, Barely can be regarded as the antithesis to noise. The Barely paradigm is manifest in a number of forms spanning abstract sound-art, acousmatic composition, acoustic instrumental performance and spatial sound-architecture.

Barely explores the paradigm in terms of public space and installation. The work involves a large ‘barely visible’ spatial installation that changes in intensity over time. Visual materials for the installation consist of 20 clear, colorless one-mm thick, one-meter wide and four-meter long polycarbonate foils hang from a 9 by 8-meter ceiling grid. The foils were painted with a line pattern in ultraviolet reflective paint. This pattern was designed through computer simulations to both enhance and skew the spatial topology.

Naturally occurring sounds from in- and outside the space were recorded and classified in terms of intrinsic (spectral and temporal, or ‘inside’ the sound) and extrinsic (referential, or referring ‘outside’ the sound) content. The blend of indoor and outdoor sounds dissolved the sense of boundary. In addition, close-microphone recordings, which exclude room acoustics, were used to rearticulate detail when micro-scale variations in temporal and spectral information were lost. Editing and transformation served two main functions. To explore extrinsic information by creating a continuum from a sound suggesting a direct causal basis or concrete reference, to a sound of remote causal basis or abstract reference. Sounds of concrete reference were used to create a network of indicative relationships suggestive mainly of human activity in ordinary environments. And to explore intrinsic information by drawing attention to, and isolating, small details and fluctuations in sound identity, spectrum and morphology.

In terms of sound, a 16-channel composition is spatialised over 12 high quality near-field loudspeakers and 40 transparent miniature loudspeaker elements. The composed material is 70 minutes in duration. The opening of the installation involved a three-hour performance where spatialisation and material complexity is mixed in real-time in response to the audiences’ interaction including staying time, physical motion, self produced sound level, change in room acoustics.