Logo Fundació Antoni Tàpies

Interval. Sound Actions

With Theo Burt, Hanne Darboven, Ainara Elgoibar, Brian Eno, Lluïsa Espigolé, Laia Estruch, EVOL, Jaume Ferrete, Raquel Friera, Nicoline van Harskamp, Tom Johnson, Susan Philipsz, Quim Pujol, Octavi Rumbau, Terre Thaemlitz and Erica Wise.

Interval. Sound Actions is an essay about listening contexts. The Western musical tradition of the last two centuries (dominated by the music that calls itself enlightened) has attempted to neutralise and obliterate listening contexts. According to that tradition, listening to music is only possible and is only fulfilled through absolute concentration, and surrounded by the strictest silence. Silence is the only appropriate context for listening to music, a context that is rather a non-context, an (ideal) absence of context. But the truth is that in the act of listening to music one is always surrounded by other things: surrounded, for example, by noise (noise, as Jacques Attali says, is a constant manifestation of life). And those other things that occur in the listening context not only condition our attitude to listening – they do not only have a psychological effect –, but transform music itself. In the digital age, says Peter Szendy, the listener alters music, operates upon it digitally, i.e., numerically (with digits), but also with fingers, just as the DJ modifies a rotating vinyl by touching it with his hands. It is, therefore, an act of listening that plays.

When music enters the contemporary art museum, and becomes what is called Sound Art, it abandons that neutral listening context. And yet, as if in compensation, it wants to be presented as a work of art. The physical support, the theatrical or performative dimensions, the score, recording, documentation (whatever its nature) are then highlighted. In short, the context is magnified, but it is precisely a listening context. It is often thought that the museum is not an ideal place for listening, and this is perhaps why headphones proliferate in galleries (as they proliferate, for example, in public transport).

The condition of possibility of Interval. Sound Actions is the Fundació Antoni Tàpies as a listening context. And predicated upon this condition is the question of not only how music sounds in the museum, but the sound of the museum itself. The proposal consists of sound installations, videos, lectures, concerts and a series of radio programmes.

Images: photo gallery press conference.

Institutional sponsors

with the support of