Knowledge of Materials in Sound Art

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Throughout the week of August 14th, students from extremely diverse departments within University of the Arts Helsinki were able to work with some extremely hands-on techniques taught by visiting instructor Ludger Hennig. Hennig has been an active sound artist since the mid 1990s, as well as the senior technician for Bill Viola’s studio. One of his fortes is the manipulation of spatial dimensions through using vibrating materials (as well as the space itself), and is well-versed in working with many physical materials, particularly metal.

Students were able to better understand how and why they could diffuse sound through various objects, beginning with the simple test of passing sounds through a large steel plate (pictured below) using different kinds of surface transducers that turn any surface into a speaker.

After testing objects like vibrating wires, paper, and various metal objects, everyone went on a trip to source material from a nearby junkyard. The findings: metal plates, bowls, two stainless steel urinals, and plenty of other things worth testing over the remaining days.

The results were all quite different, and likely wouldn’t have been possible without the freedom that the sculpture department’s workshop provided: the space allowed for some serious messy work to be done, as well as excellent assistance and equipment.

Ludger even found a use for the monstrous ButtKicker he brought along (a surface transducer usually reserved for making movie theatre seats rumble). Among the student projects was a ButtKicking, growling, vibrating piano.

Here are a few of the results of the workshop: