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  • Spatio-Aural Terrains
  • Thanos Chrysakis, composer (bio)

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Frontispiece. Thanos Chrysakis, a view of the Encounters sound installation, 2005.

© Thanos Chrysakis

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Auditory Spaces

Composers have always created auditory spaces of different dimensions—that is, different kinds of musical spaces, from two-dimensional space (a simple melody) to more elaborate auditory dimensions (the dimension of depth through the permeability of the sounds, the dimension of directionality through their various speeds and movements and so on). Multidimensional composed auditory spaces can be found in—amongst other places—fugues, sonatas and contemporary music that uses net-like structures, soundmasses, polyphonic multi-layering, etc. On the other hand the question of sound and physical space is addressed in a long tradition from, to name but a few, Andrea Gabrielli and Giovanni Gabrielli to Thomas Tallis up to György Kurtág and Luigi Nono.

In my compositions my urge to deal with various dimensions plays a prominent role, but my equal interest in the notion of physical space has found a liberating fulfillment within the artistic practice of sound installations dealing with auditory spaces and physical spaces at the same time.

Auditory Spaces In Places

In an interview [1] about The Elephant Man, director David Lynch described the way he was inspired about the particular feeling that London might have had at the time of the "elephant man." While in London for the shooting, he found inspiration and ideas from books about London more than from London itself, because not every place that he went to was Elephant Man territory; nonetheless, one day he found himself walking around a derelict hospital and at a particular moment he knew what it used to be, living back then, in this city. "The Dasein is in the Atmosphere," as Michel Serres says [2].

I mention this anecdote to show how I am interested in places. There are different ways of approaching sound installations, and my practice is to construct computer algorithms or multichannel soundscapes that are played through different kinds of speakers in particular buildings or rooms.

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Fig. 1.

Thanos Chrysakis, Resonator, generative electronic soundscape. The monitor inside the barrel with the spectra of sounds.

© Thanos Chrysakis

Working within this framework demands that I accumulate details from the specificity of the place—in other words, create a fruitful dialogue with it: learning about its history, trying to perceive its own singularities, taking into consideration its shape and using found material within it.

The sound has to come as a catalyst to the space, contributing to the spatial presence of it, to make it more present to the visitors. There is no decoration, "beautification" or functionality of the type of music for airports, malls and restaurants; the space is conceived as the performer of the work, in the sense that without it, the work is not realized. My motivation within the practice of sound installations lies in the idea of creating an intervention of sensibilities crossing personal and public boundaries/spaces.

Spatio-Aural Borders/Spaces of Co-Existence

Resonator is a sound installation conceived for the Château de Linardié, in a small village south of France.

An old barrel at the basement was used as a resonating chamber for my generative electronic soundscape (Fig. 1). A laptop and two small speakers were placed inside the barrel. This object functioned as a resonator and amplified the microsonorities in such a way that the sounds of the environment could still be heard and fused with those of my generative audio system. The room had a dim light, so the barrel was not very visible. If someone were to be drawn close to it then she or he would see from some holes on the barrel a monitor showing the spectra of the sounds in motion.

In February 2005 my generative micro-textural audio system Encounters, which uses stochastic processes and permutations, was presented at Goldsmiths. It was placed in a room with very big windows, so changes of the natural light could be perceived by those who visited the place twice. [End Page 41]

I created two squares in the middle of the...


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