Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Photo Exhibition & Raphael Saadiq at Olavfestdagene 2011

From July 28 to August 4, the annual St. Olav’s Festival, or Olavfestdagene, in Trondheim, Norway, was arranged. I had the privilege to help with the installation of ultra-sound loudspeakers that were used at a photo exhibition. The sound installation was produced by a team from Soundscape Studios, lead by Robin Støckert.

The photo exhibition entitled “hope” was a collection of pictures from Afghanistan. (Click here for Norwegian news report from the event.) The Red Cross and Red Crescent handed out single-use cameras to mothers in Afghanistan, who passed them on to their children. The children were encouraged to take pictures from their local communities that symbolized hope to them and it were these pictures that were displayed at the exhibition.

The sound installation was a comprehensive blend of sound-sources. At the entrance there were several display mannequins dressed in traditional Afghan clothing with speakers mounted under the veils. The speakers would play back whispers of the word hope. Further on, several of the photographs had contact speakers attached so the pictures themselves would actually vibrate with sound. This is a brilliant way of confusing the listener with the location of the sound source, since there is no speaker to be seen. The result is a full integration of the sources of the experience, in contrast to the traditional dislocation of sound and image. Several other speakers were hidden behind the walls and in the ceilings of the display area. On top of two of the display walls there were motorized ultra sound speakers panning back and forth. An ultra sound speaker doesn’t emit any audible sound per se, but when the carrier waves hit a medium, audible sound appears. With these speakers panning back and forth well over people’s heads the sounds were moving back and forth on the walls across the space. But the most interesting effect is when you walk through the beam. You start off hearing the sound on the reflecting wall, then it literally moves through your head (audible sound occurs when it hits your cranium), before it dies out behind you or reflects off another wall.

The sound works that were installed were a combination of atmospheres, atmospheric music, words and vocal sounds, and the sound of children playing. The various sound events were playing back at random times to make an organic atmosphere.

Big shout out to the Soundscape Studios team for making a very smooth integration between sound and image! –and thanks for letting me get my fingers dirty in the installation process!

Raphael Saadiq

While being involved with the “Hope” exhibition I got the chance to attend one of the concerts at the Olavsfestdagene festival. One of my songwriter heroes, Raphael Saadiq came to Trondheim. Saadiq started out as a bassplayer for Prince and his 2000 collaboration with D’Angelo won a Grammy Award. Over the last decade he has operated both as a solo artist and a producer in a number of high profiled collaborations.

Saadiq’s support act were none other than the M.G.’s minus Booker T. They’re also known as STAX and the band from the Blues Brothers films. A star-spangled night, Eddie Floyd was also there to perform some of his original hits with the STAX band.

Here are some pictures and a short video-cut from Raphael Saadiq’s performance.

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