In collaboration with Younwon Sohn.
I turn on the camera app. I have my headphones on. I am deliberately trying to only listen. I hear a shrill voice. I put the camera app on my phone. This one is at Seoul Hanriver. It monitors image and sound. I hear mom is speaking;—on the way to take a bus...—and she did not finish her sentence. Then a metallic voice from the tv interrupted her.
Now I hear an irregular fast broken noise. I look at the screen and I see they’re fast forwarding the movie. The monitor shows the scene. I cannot see them. I only see the part of their tv screen and a bit of their phone home below. I hear my parents chit chatting again and just saw the numbers shining on their tv screen. It’s 1:26 in the morning. After they finished fast-forwarding the film there was silence. I look again, they muted the sound of the TV and turned it off. Then I heard a door closing. Now I can only hear some subtle noises constantly coming in and out. These noises are the sound of an evening air. Invisible frequencies and signals, It sounds like water from a river, or the streaming sound of the waves. [...]
Excerpts from Sounds Like Water , 2020
In collaboration with Johanna Ehde
Crises can also be expressed through sound, and specifically through noise, which functions perfectly as an economy of disruption.1
Noise holds a negative remnant. It talks about disturbance, interference and annoyance. Noise becomes matter out of place. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily equal disruptiveness by all means. Embracing noise, or disruptiveness might mean embracing multiplicity, plurality, the refusal of categorizations and hierarchies. Disorder, chaos, flexibility might acknowledge imperfection, instability, marginality and an inclusion of the unknown. In this sense noise could be seen as a method to “put in crisis” that which is discriminatory.
Aguda, ligera, estridente (High, light, shrill) tries to capture the voice of a typeface* which was developed through “noisy” means. Its sound is built in close relationship to cultural constructions on gender and sound. This relates to the silencing of “female” voices and the voice of “the other”. “Female” sound has historically been associated with monstrosity, disorder, and death. It has been seen as disturbing, evil and difficult to listen to. Ideas like the virtue of female silence and the “two mouths” who’s lips must remain closed links the dangerous female sound to the dangerous female sexuality. This becomes an ideology to systematically silence the non-normative voice, to discard it. Aguda, ligera, estridente re-appropriates this ideology by adopting the “Female” sound as a form of subversive noise. Closing women's mouths was the object of a complex array of legislation and convention in preclassical and classical Greece, of which the best documented examples are Solon's sumptuary laws and the core concept is Sopholdes' blanket statement, “Silence is the kosmos [good order] of women.”2
Aguda, ligera, estridente brings a context to embrace this noise, and reaffirm it through the feeling of its vibration. Listening is explicitly relational, and that becomes central as a tool to make this typeface public, to publish it, and unfold it while considering the possibilities of a “freedom of listening”. [...] it is only through listening out for difference that a plurality of voices can register – this is the role, in other words, of audition as audit. Freedom of expression is necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure plurality. The vagaries of (conditioned) individual choice and the conditions of the marketplace, as well as more direct instances of censorship and control, might lead to a multitude of similar voices, or the marginalization or silencing of certain other voices.3
The prevailing typography doctrine remains circumscribed to western-centric modernist ideas of purity in design, natural balance, the golden ratio, and perfection of form, while systematically excluding complexity, plurality, and queerness. In many cultures, carvings and letters have been seen as loaded with divine force, and therefore only allowed to be handled by clergymen who became the link between divinity and humanity. Knowing the written expression of a language and mastering this art was a means of ’conquering the world’ and it was the privilege of a select few.4 The superior position of the written word and the ones who control its production and form, is inextricable from history writing and the recording and archiving of certain experiences and knowledge. When lacking plurality in history writing (and history typesetting) a singular voice is continuously reproduced in a consistent tone and form, while “deviating” sounds and “deviating” histories remain in the margins or out of the history books.
1) Sara Nadal-Melsió, Allora and Calzadilla, 2018.
2) Anne Carson, Glass, Irony, and God, 1994.
3) Kate Lacey, Listening in the Digital Age, 2013.
4) Susanne Lundin, En liten skara äro vi… en studie av typographer vid 1900-talets första decennier, 1992.
Many thanks to Chus Pato and Ultramarinos for granting permission to use excerpts from Poesía reunida. Volumen 1 (translation from galician to spanish by Ana Gorría) in Aguda, ligera, estridente.
* The typeface in Aguda, ligera, estridente was developed during Residencias Artísticas de La Puebla de Cazalla as part of the project Collective Type and Noise Design (2018) which explored ways of designing a typeface collectively. It was developed with Ana Gómez, Andrés Gallego, Dolores Gómez, Domingo Reyes, Estefanía Ruíz, Felipe Romero, Francisco Moreno, Juan Diego Asencio, Juan Jovacho, Keli Andrade, Luís Moya, Manuel Márquez, Maria Isabel Segura, Marta Miró, Miguel Hormigo, El Centro ocupacional de La puebla de Cazalla, and Alegría y Piñero. Aguda, ligera, estridente is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL
Intensa necesidad la mía,
posar la vista en algo en lo que no pueda ser retenida. 1
She listened attentively. Little by little she discovered the disheartened cracks because of the woodworm. She remembered that the spiritualists believe that these cracks are expressions, and voices, of the dead, and she found herself bristled in fear…1
In the future, major disasters will raise the alarm through, for example, emergency broadcasters, sound vehicles, [...] and social media. The advantage of these means of communication is that they can be used in a much more targeted way.1
Collective Type and Noise Design is an exploration into ways of designing type collectively, through voice, noise production, improvisation, drawing and meditation exercises. Simultaneously, it is an exploration into ways of designing noise collectively by the same means.
This work was developed with graphic designer Johanna Ehde and a group of locals within a one month residency in La Puebla de Cazalla.
The local nature of noise problems does not mean that all action is best taken at local level, as for example generally the sources of environmental noise are not of local origin.1
The vibration-environment is a term that conceives sound as an immersive scenario. As an ecology, it is constantly producing relationships between auditors and sources. Sound is understood in this research as a medium or a trace, a matter of cohabitation and as a sharing of a common space.
Focusing on anthropogenic sounds, the research question is about the terms in which the vibration-environment is determined, designed and assembled—the ways in which humans produce noise. Thus, ‘noise’, as a ‘condition’ inherent to the vibration-environment, is constantly at the backdrop. This ‘condition’ is what eventually stands as the questioned element within this thesis.
As a starting point, a series of references about cultural implications of sound in space situate audible phenomena as an ethereal substance, which has been connoted as a sacred element and as ungraspable matter—especially when the source of the sound is unknown or, in relation to the acousmatic term, invisible.
At the same time, reverberation and echoes exemplify the physical particularities of sound in relation to space and architecture, bringing as well a magical dimension widely used in music and religion.
In close relationship to this, the abat-voix, as a surface used in churches to direct priests’ voices towards the public to make them distinct, becomes a clear example of sound deployment within a political dimension. Thus, listening to the abat-voix refers to the questioning of the vibration-environment and the questioning of the relationships between noise and the physical and contextual vibrations occupying spaces and bodies.
This approach sets a crucial aim within my practice. Noisification defines a process that aims to intervene in situations with specific contextual and political significance. Mise en abyme, reflection, illusion and mirage become strategies to emphasise the relationship with the sound and with anthropogenic soundscapes in order to trigger a different form of exchange with the recognised sources.
Using loudspeakers becomes my main methodology to manipulate and represent sound. It constitutes a process of breaking bonds between the audible and its source and therefore a process of hiding the source.
Such methodology performs a chase for acousmatic sounds—and acousmatic listening—and therefore for invisible ethereal matter. Noisification is a chase for fiction and for alternatives to the noise.
Noisification. Listening to The Abat-voix, Abstract, 2018 Passages on background noise, version for heaphones Noisification. Listening to The Abat-voix was printed in Amsterdam in 2018. Graphic design by Darío Dezfuli.
Andrés García Vidal works as an artist with a focus on sound and research. From an interest in audio’s intrusive scope and its capacity to “break into”, he investigates forms of voicing and sounding as methods to inhabit, affect and, in other words, to be agentive within specific locations, situations and contexts. He delves into invasiveness, porosity and relationality as a way to engage with the politics and poetics of public space and architecture. Through acoustics’ persuasiveness, improvisation and noise as a non-normative form of participation, he pursues a “freedom of listening”—in reference to Kate Lacey; [...] the conditions of the marketplace, as well as more direct instances of censorship and control, might lead to a multitude of similar voices, or the marginalization or silencing of certain other voices. Kate Lacey, Listening in the Digital Age, 2013.
Lay Eyes Where They Can’t See (Amsterdam, NL, 2019) or Touch to Snooze (Amsterdam, NL, 2019) are some of his recent interventions in public space. He has been part of group shows such as Hypnequinomagia.The Magic of the Sleeping Horses (Combo, Venice, IT, 2019), Torpor/A Bliss/A Slump (Haarlemmerweg 613, Amsterdam, NL, 2019) or They Swore It Could Talk To Dogs (Bageion Hotel, Athens, GR, 2018). He has participated in Residencies like Programa de Producción Uava-C3A (Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, C3A, Córdoba, ES, 2018) and Beca de Residencia Artística la Puebla de Cazalla (La Puebla de Cazalla, ES, 2018). Garcia Vidal develops several ongoing collaborations such as Aguda, Ligera, Estridente (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo José María Moreno Galván, La Puebla de Cazalla, ES, 2019), together with graphic designer Johanna Ehde, Juana Lee (Mapo-gg, Changheon-Dong, 독막로 20길 42. Seoul, KR, 2018 / Neverneverland, Amsterdam, 2020), together with visual artist Younwon Sohn, Pirotecnia (Galería Alarcón Criado, Sevilla, ES, 2018), together with flamenco dancer Ana Arenas. He has been commissioned for sound the projects Malpaís (Copia Original) by Juan Carlos Robles and Guillermo Weickert (Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía C3A, Córdoba, ES / Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo MIAC, Las Palmas, ES, 2019) Homies Prayers by Mónica Mays (Corridor Project Space, Amsterdam, NL 2019), Krab Jenga Club by Darío Dezfuli (Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem, NL, 2019) and Soundscapes, a solo performance for Silencio. Festival de la Escucha (Espacio Turina, Sevilla, ES, 2018). García Vidal was awarded with the funding INICIARTE from the Andalusian Culture Council in 2016.
Andrés García Vidal lives and works in Amsterdam, NL, where he graduated from the Dirty Art Department, Sandberg Instituut, in 2018. He is currently supported by the Mondriaan Fund Stipendium for Emerging Artists / Werkbijdrage Jong Talent (2020-2021).
+31 649 49 55 13
Website by Johanna Ehde