The Ground: From the Land to the Sea
Opening Reception: Friday, 23 March 2018, 7.00–9.00pm
Special Performance by the artist during the opening at 8.00pm.
Guest of Honour: His Excellency Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore
NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore) is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia by sound artist and composer Tarek Atoui, conceived as a composition that unfolds in space with its unique sound library and instruments. It is the first large-scale exhibition that Atoui has created through interweaving objects, instruments, and recordings, some borrowed from pre-existing projects, others newly collected and produced.
The Ground: From the Land to the Sea comprises two layers of auditory experiences that interact with each other as well as with the spatial and sonic qualities of NTU CCA Singapore’s exhibition hall, merging them into a single composition. Enveloping the main exhibition space are a set of speakers that play the sounds of underwater environments as well as human and industrial activities in the harbours of Athens and Abu Dhabi, recorded for the project I/E (2015–ongoing). Building upon the sound collection, Atoui has, as part of this presentation in Singapore, recorded at local harbours and waterfronts, together with composer and sound artist Éric La Casa.
The recording process in Singapore took Atoui and La Casa to a range of waterfront sites and islands including the Jurong Fishery Port, Pulau Sebarok (an oil storage facility and refuelling port off the Southern coastline), on an oil tanker, and along the Singapore shores. During these trips, the duo picked out acoustic features of these environs, both underwater and on land, and captured them in their diverse forms—as vibrations, audible noise, and inaudible audio waves, etc.— using devices such as a recorder, a hydrophone, contact microphones, and selfmade omnidirectional microphones. Drawing reference to the emergence of acoustic ecology, which attempts to understand and analyse characteristics of sonic environments such as geological formations, organisms, and human interactions, Atoui’s auditory library is an artistic interpretation of the ecology of our times. Set within a “white cube,” the audience is transposed into an immersive audio-visual topography, becoming part of the installation.
Most of the instruments shown are part of The Ground project, the result of the artist’s five-year-long investigation of natural cycles in the Pearl River Delta, first presented at Mirrored Gardens, a project space in Guangzhou, China, in 2017. Also presented are instruments created for previous projects, such as The Reverse Collection (2014–16) and WITHIN (2012–13). This ensemble of unusual instruments is enriched with new additions, including a set of porcelain and ceramic discs, on which traditional Arabic rhythms are engraved, and a customised record player that rotates at irregular speeds, never reading a disc the same way twice.
At the core of Atoui’s practice lies an ongoing process of inviting composers, musicians, and artists to collaborate on his pieces in search of new ideas, gestures, and experiences. For the current exhibition, Atoui will engage with local and international musicians who will be invited to appropriate his composition and intervene in the exhibition space. He will work with acclaimed sound artists and musicians Vivian Wang and Yuen Chee Wai, as well as music curator Mark Wong, who in turn will invite other musicians and sound artists to inhabit the installation throughout the course of the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore.
Supported by Institut français, with the additional support of the Embassy of France in Singapore and Institut français Singapour.
Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France) studied contemporary and electronic music at the French National Conservatory of Reims. He navigates between the vocabularies and aesthetics of the visual arts, performing arts, and music, redefining contemporary composition and sound production. In 2012, Atoui launched Serpentine Gallery’s Memory Marathon event in London with a five-hour performance that blended influences of traditional Arabic music with contemporary genres including electronic and hip-hop. He was co-artistic director of the Bergen Assembly 2016, a triennial in Norway. Recent projects have taken place at the Tate Modern, London (2016); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Bois de Boulogne (2015); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2013); and Norbergfestival (2013). Selected exhibitions include Art or Sound, Fondazione Prada, Ca’ Corner della Regina, Venice (2014); Within, Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); Metastable Circuit, la Lutherie and Dimis Reconnected, dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012). His work has been part of biennials including the Marrakech Biennale (2016); 8th Berlin Biennial (2014); 9th Biennale do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013); and the 9th and 11th Sharjah Biennial (2009/13).
Éric La Casa (France) has worked in the field of sound creation since the early 1990s through recording, record production, installation, radio, and various types of written publications. Through his aesthetic of capturing sound, his work fits equally into the fields of sound art and music, offering an interesting critical approach to the practice of sound landscape, and questioning our listening methods and schemes. He has recently examined the sound dimension of public spaces and the places in which we spend our private and domestic lives in the context of the project entitled Habiter, and the relation between waiting and listening in L’attente. La Casa collaborated with Tarek Atoui on recording the harbour of Abu Dhabi in 2017 and of Singapore in 2018 for the I/E project.
Vivian Wang (Singapore) diverged from her formal training as a classical pianist when she started the avant-rock outfit The Observatory in 2001. A former TV producer-presenter as well as a film music supervisor, Wang focuses solely on music, performance, and interdisciplinary work since 2008. She performs on synth, keyboard, voice, and percussion, and tags Alice Coltrane, Robert Wyatt, Mark Hollis, Bill Evans, and Annapurna Devi as her all-time favourite musical heroes.
Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore) is a musician, artist, designer, and curator. He is a founding member of FEN (Far East Network) and Project Director of the Asian Music Network, where he co-curates the annual Asian Meeting Festival in Japan. He is a member of the avant-rock band The Observatory, where he plays guitar, synth, and electronics.
Mark Wong (Singapore) has been active in experimental music, sonic arts and independent music practice in the last decade, playing multiple roles as organiser, programmer, artist, curator, writer, and label producer. His sound compositions, site-specific works, sound walks, sound objects, and multi-channel installations have been exhibited at Singapore Art Museum, 8Q@SAM, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Jendela (Visual Arts Space), and Yavuz Gallery. In 2010, Wong conceived Ujikaji as a music label and event organiser with a focus on experimental music in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Tarek Atoui has invited local and international musicians to engage with his exhibition and appropriate the installation for given periods of time. He worked with acclaimed sound artists and musicians Vivian Wang and Yuen Chee Wai, as well as music curator Mark Wong, who each will host three other musicians and sound artists. The guests will inhabit the exhibition and freely experiment with Atoui’s instruments throughout the course of the exhibition.
Schedule for upcoming Guest Musicians in the Exhibition Hall:
Vivian Wang (Singapore): 26 – 30 March
Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore): 31 March – 3 April
Darren Ng (Singapore): 7 – 10 April
Uriel Barthélémi (France): 13 – 17 April
Tini Aliman (Singapore): 28 April – 1 May
Wu Junhan (Singapore): 2 – 5 May
The Analog Girl (Singapore): 10 – 13 May
Cheryl Ong (Singapore): 19 – 22 May
Zai Tang (Singapore): 31 May – 3 June
Bani Haykal (Singapore): 4 – 7 June
Dharma (Singapore): 13 – 16 June
Sudarshan Chandra Kumar (Malaysia): 19 – 22 June
11 May 2018, Fri 03:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Focusing on the artworks in the solo exhibition by Tarek Atoui, The Ground: From the Land to the Sea, the workshop engages with artistic practices and prepares educators for visits with their students by providing educational tools as entry points to the exhibition, and assisting in identifying aspects of the exhibition that might be relevant to their classes. It suggests techniques for exploring both the visual arts and other areas of daily encounters.
*Artist Tarek Atoui will be present during the workshop on Saturday, 24 March 2018.
Atoui and Hu Fang will elaborate on The Ground project and their long-term observations and research into agricultural practices and the history of music and instrumentation in the Pearl River Delta. They will also discuss how a new narrative is created in his piece at NTU CCA Singapore when instruments produced from their research meet with recordings the artist has been collecting from harbours around the world.
Part of the Voilah! French Festival Singapore by Institut Français Singapore
Invited to create a music performance with Atoui’s instrument collection, Barthélémi will use the acoustic possibilities of the room to explore different resonating frequencies. Taking the shape of a deambulation, the performance will have a particular breathing rhythm, which will be defined in the days preceding the concert. Space and soundscapes will be intimately linked to the performer’s gestures and intentions, developing as a haunted percussion solo, but not exclusively with percussion instruments. This process engages in a discussion between the instruments, the venue, and the audience, creating a situation that questions the performer’s choices as well as the exhibition itself.
Ever since sound entered the space of art, it has been plotting its escape. Materially, sound is difficult to contain. It leaks through walls, resounds in unruly ways, is audible where it should be not. This excessiveness, or “noisiness,” is a fundamental quality of sound. Conceptually, sound is equally slippery. Attempts to define it always seem delimited and constraining, insufficient when set against the infinite horizon of the sonic imaginary. Sound is materially and conceptually resistant—it always contains too much. So, against this sense of “too much sound,” what specialist modes of listening could be deployed? In response to sonic abundance, how can we learn to hear “more,” to “over-hear?” This talk departs from these questions, addressing recent works by artists and theorists working with sound to propose a series of strategies for listening experimentally—to sound in itself, but also, and more importantly, to the complex and profuse relations it engenders.
1 Jun 2018, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM
23 Jun 2018, Sat 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Friday, 4 May, 7.30 – 9.00pm
Carte Blanche #1
Bani Haykal, Wu Jun Han, Dharma
Friday, 1 June 2018, 7.30 – 9.00pm
Carte Blanche #2
Tini Aliman, Cheryl Ong, The Analog Girl, Vivian Wang
Saturday, 23 June 2018, 6.00 – 8.00pm
Carte Blanche #3
Tini Aliman, Dharma, Sudarshan Chandra Kumar, Cheryl Ong, Zai Tang, Wu Jun Han, Yuen Chee Wai
Part of Art Day Out! x The School Holidays at Gillman Barracks
Derived from the sonic exchanges that will take place throughout the course of the exhibition between Tarek Atoui’s guest hosts—Vivian Wang, Yuen Chee Wai, and Mark Wong—this series of performative situations are conceptualised as an open invitation for other invited performers to use the exhibition space as an experimental platform. Each of the evenings will be the result of an exchange between the performers and the three guest hosts.
Today, with malleable digital media, sound can be translated into and across a wide range of sense-based media forms, blending boundaries. Sound can be visualised and images become sounds, temperature becomes colour, and more. The electromagnetic spectrum contains waves and data that our perceptual system did not evolve to perceive, but we can now listen to. New technologies give us access to realities we did not know existed, and more than that, the ability to perceive in new ways other realities so as to gain deeper understanding of, and empathy, for others. In this talk, Professor Sørensen will give insights into these new technologies and what they mean for human auditory perception.
20 May 2018, Sun 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
*Developed for participants aged 13 and above.
A two-day workshop to build personalised noise instruments using op-amps and contact microphones. On the first day, participants will learn the basics about experimental noise and improvisational music through building an amplifier circuit and contact microphone, followed by building custom-made acoustic noise boxes on the second day. The workshop will conclude with an acoustic experiment by performing on one’s self-made noise boxes.
Participants will be asked to cover expenses of the material used for this workshop.
To register, please email: email@example.com
This lecture will look at the practice of noise and experimental music through the act of listening with and by technology. A historical account of how technology has introduced ideas of resonance, amplification, and noise into the practice of music, as well as how contemporary practices of experimentalism in Asia have allowed to break away from institutionalised Western notions of music, leading towards an inclusiveness of listening and community building.
On the occasion of Gillman Barracks Art Day Out! x The School Holidays
*Developed for participants aged 13 and above.
Participants are invited to meditate on the sounds from the exhibition The Ground: From the Land to the Sea composed by artist and musician Tarek Atoui. The workshop will explore several aspects of image making, from abstract to narrative, engaging closely with the idea of developing stories that sounds can tell. The participants will visually translate these sonorities through the question “What does something intangible like a sound look like?”
To register for the Workshops, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org