09-30-2007 16:53
Listen to Beauty of Sound Art in Seoul

Korean artist Kim Young-sup uses white speaker cables to make vases in the traditional Korean pottery style in the work ``Co-existence.'' The recorded sound of rice being washed can be heard from the vases. / Courtesy of Kim Young-sup
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

Sound is everywhere. There is no way to escape sound, whether it's beautiful like music or annoying like a car horn. Yet sound is not usually thought of as art in the same way as paintings or sculptures are.

Now, you can experience ``sound art'' at the first-ever Sound Effects Seoul 2007 (SFX Seoul 2007), which is billed as a ``ubiquitous aural international sound art festival.''

Fifteen artists from Korea, France, Japan, United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria and Iceland were invited to show off works which push the boundaries of sound art. The exhibition runs through Oct. 7 at three museums, Yonsei University Media + Space Gallery, Total Museum of Contemporary Art, and Songwon Art Center.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Baruch Gottlieb, founder and director of the exhibition, described ``sound art'' as an art form that you process first by listening. He noted that while you can close your eyes to visual art, it is impossible to close your ears to sound. Music is perhaps the most popular form of sound art, but the art form is not limited to just songs and musical instruments.

Gottlieb said sound art is already a well-developed media art genre in Europe, Canada and Japan, but not Korea. He hopes the SFX Seoul 2007 has helped in attracting interest in sound art in Korea.

At the Total Museum, you can experience sound art even before you enter the building. You can hear the birds chirping, but after a few seconds, you realize the ``birds'' are actually chirping to the tune of Madonna's ``Like a Virgin.'' This is ``Call Notes,'' a work by American artist Dan St. Clair.

Sound art is not just about sound. Sound can also be a part of an installation artwork. Canadian artist Jean-Pierre Gauthier's kinetic sculpture ``Uncertainty Markers,'' features lead pencils rubbing against the wall to create drawings while the scratching sounds are amplified.

Despite sound art being a relatively new art form in Korea, two Korean artists Kim Young-eun and Kim Young-sup, are participating in the exhibition. In ``Co-existence,'' Kim Young-sup used white speaker cable to make vases and pots in the style of traditional Korean pottery. From the pots, you can hear the recorded sound of rice being washed.

Several people hit the pavement with their microphones, as part of Canadian artist Christof Migone's performance ``Hit Parade'' for the opening of SFX Seoul 2007 at Songwon Art Center in Anguk-dong, Seoul.
/ Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Gauthier
Canadian artist Christof Migone held a performance of ``Hit Parade'' for the opening of the SFX Seoul 2007 on the street at Songwon Art Center in Anguk-dong. He asked several people to hit their microphones on the pavement for 1,000 times or until it broke. The destroyed microphones are exhibited at the Total Museum.

Other sound artists participating at the SFX Seoul 2007 include Japan's Tetsuya Umeda, Kanta Horio, and Miki Yui; Australia's Michael Graeve and Philip Samartzis; Austria's Sabine Groschup and Werner Reiterer; Germany's Robert Jacobson; and Iceland's Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson.

Gottlieb said they are already planning to hold another sound exhibition in Seoul next year. There are also plans for simultaneous exhibitions to be held in Seoul, Tokyo, Melbourne and Montreal.