Luke Fowler: A Grammar For Listening
- Talitha Kotzé
- 19 November 2009
Ever noticed the after-effect of sound rustling through a cityscape? What happens when images recede to the backdrop and sound takes on the leading role? Luke Fowler – in collaboration with Eric La Casa, Lee Patterson and Toshiya Tsunoda – creates field recordings to posit questions on how to develop new dialogues between looking and listening.
The artist responds to pivotal moments in the history of Western culture’s aim to classify noise, music and everyday sounds: John Cage’s 1953 composition 4’33’’, silence used in experimental films of the 1960s, and Peter Schaeffer’s ‘found sounds’ and the concept of ‘acousmatic’ (reduced listening) where sounds were stripped of instrumental and cultural contexts in order to develop a language of intonation.
Fowler presents a series of film and audio recordings that have been edited to create symphonies of everyday sound. We are reminded of Andrea Arnold’s films, but instead of captivating us visually, Fowler’s euphony evokes an emotional response purely through sound and the underlying acoustic structure that governs these compositions.
In one stanza we see a found object amplified by contact microphones, producing harmonic overtones through electro-magnetic springs – apparently from a discarded lighter – and we are transfixed as if sound has just slowed down and met its visual counterpart.
Without slipping into the potential pitfall of pretentiousness, the works have been installed with careful consideration, and we are presented with a beautifully raw, yet powerful aural and visual feast.
The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 30 Jan