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Noise Rhapsody

This project is based on a critical practice approach that uses disobedient voices to  against being ruled and being defined.

produced by: Qianhui Fan


Sound art should always be closely combined with the philosophy, science, sociology and anthropology of sound. Therefore, it has a clear openness and transversality, and is not limited to a certain art field and discipline system. All in all, the core of sound art is still philosophy, because it is always an art form with reflection and exploration characteristics.

Theoretical basis

Foucault (1978) proposed discourses construct the world and the form of knowledge have produced modern institution and systems of power. This means that discourse is a way to building power, since discourse through language to control and influence individual ideology. According to Stuart Hall (2001), Foucault’s main idea is that ‘discourses provide a language for talking knowledge about a particular topic at a particular historical moment.’ In particular, when an abstract thing is perceived, people tend to generalized it through language. In addition, Foucault (1972: 38) argues that discourse has its own ‘rules of formation’ and ‘conditions of existence’. As a result, discourse to some extent limits the way of thinking and practical ability. Of course, the discourse here is not just the voice of speech, it also has many ways, but voice is the most direct way to understand. It is easy for people to change their attitudes because of other people's voices, and even restrict themselves from thinking. For example, women should be gentle, do housework, and educate their children. Black people are mentally retarded, of low quality and so on. These discourses make the defined groups lose their power and are at a disadvantage of being defined and constructed, thus guaranteeing the advantageous position of those with power. Therefore, the ‘rules’ are both the support of power and the boundary of the range in which power can be exercised. The key is that although this rule of how much absolute power capacity is restricting everyone, it is not easy to be aware of its existence, just like the ‘subconscious’ that really determines human behavior.(The psychology community has generally recognized that human subconsciousness affects people more than consciousness, and it even determines the content of consciousness itself). Contrary to the so-called rules, from a physical point of view, noise is the sound of the frequency and intensity of sound waves irregularly and disorderly. It seems to be always challenging stable systems and structures, breaking through established boundaries and establishing different connections to promote ‘variation’.


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My concept

My artwork emphasizes the origin of "body", "everything starts from the body", has nothing to do with all the so-called consciousness, soul, and reason, return to the body, let the body overflow the discourse. This kind of autonomy and independence of the "body", the cries generated in the release process and the passion it emits are the so-called "noise". Amidst the roar of noise, the physical body disengaged from the cover of the subject, the status of the body was established, the power of the body was discovered, and the history of the body was restored.

The performer obviously plays the role of a commander. Instead of a baton, he has a ruler and hammer. It symbolizes rules and power. He is trying to control the noise and direct a piece of music. It is very interesting that the process is controlled by each other. The performer turns on the noise through the command, and the noise also affects the performer. It is transmitting that it is now noise. The performer needs to stop still to suppress the noise. It is like the power person wants to define the rules through the discourse, but the rules are constantly broken, and destroyed. I also added the interaction with the display. When it's quiet, the text on the screen is: "What are you controlling?" Once it receives a noise signal[ˈsɪɡnəl], the display will ask this question: "What is controlling you?" I hope that the audience can think about what makes the body overflow the discourse.

Artist reference

The Italian painter Luigi Russolo (1913) released “The Art of Noise”, which incorporated many noises in daily life such as blasting sounds, whistle sounds, whispers, screams into the music system.He elaborated a new kind of noise music. He believes that noise carries the irregularity of life into our ears, but often brings countless surprises. Therefore, people can make the hearing world richer by selecting and controlling noise.

One of the reasons why Merzbow, a leader in Japanese noise music, started to make noise music was because he was exposed to Dadaism and some psychological theories, so he intended to destroy all forms of music and developed the idea of using noise to express his subconscious, And this subconscious mind implies a certain impulse of life (sexual desire), using his ideas to listen to his artworks (the subject of many of his works is pornography), I believe that the subject may somewhat understand his work, Merzbow also famously said: "The definition of noise and music varies from person to person. If noise refers to uncomfortable sound, pop music is noise to me.”

Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda has never given up on those voices that people cannot tolerate. He used sine waves, white noise, interference signals and other elements to make sound, and added unusual sound wave forms to make the noise “beautiful."




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All images were created by processing. I have designed the texture of noise for a long time. It must have both noise characteristics and visual beauty. Finally, I decided to write dynamic effects in code, because there is a function called noise in the code that is very suitable for the rhythm of noise. The composition of the pattern is very simple, from point to line to surface, from black and white to color, as if gradually showing its power. Because I need human interaction, I chose Kinect. It can locate the outline of the human body, and can read the video and combine them. At the same time Kinect can read the position of the human body into instructions and then give midi to make it sound. 

Future development
In the exhibition I imagined, the audience can also be performers. The most ideal way of exhibition is to have 3 walls. The largest wall is used to map video of interactions with the human body. The left and right sides are the contents of the display screen, which is more visually striking. And the sound will be echoed  by the refraction of the wall, which can better reflect the power of noise.


Annotated Bibliography

Luigi Carlo Filippo Russolo(1913) The Art of Noises

Luigi Russolo proposed to use noise art to explore the possibility of noise, and the meaning of noise. Its background is the second industrial revolution led by the internal combustion engine in the 19th century. He realized that just using the whole sound, not just the whole concept of music. In addition, it also needs to have a higher level of philosophical meaning. To use all the materials of music requires people to have a higher artistic quality, which also means that people will use hearing more extensively in an unprecedented way. This is a way to perceive the characteristics of sound, which has never been seen in the past since the ancient times (the present in the Russolo era). It takes the quality of people in the future to realize the meaning.

 Adam Cornelius (2008) People Who Do Noise

It is a film about the experimental music of Portland, Oregon. Extensive interviews and intimate performance footage provide an intense portrait of the motivations, emotions, and methods that go into this uncompromising, sometimes brutal musical form. Unwavering in its focus, the film brings to light an art form unfathomable to many, with only the words of the musicians themselves providing any explanation for the pulsating sonic chaos they create. The unflinching cinematic style defies any trend-setting or commercial representation, opting instead for a stark portrayal of a musical underground at its most genuine and vital.

Qiwui Lin (2012) Beyond Sound Art

This book introduces avant-garde art and modern music all the way to post-war punk rock and technological dance music, not to construct some new learning (such as "History of Auditory Art") to counter the sensory division of politics in the history of visual art (such as Ruoyi) This logic, in the future will also invent olfactory art, tactile art and other new subjects), but instead use sound as a method, using sound as a symbol to penetrate the visual subject division system, questioning the dichotomy between humanities and technology, literature, music, Specialization of the arts, theaters, and architecture professions, reflecting on the "new media", "cross-domain" and other fashionable discipline integration plans, and its method is to expand the rigid auditory cognitive model and restore the physicality and machinery in the process of sound production Sex, traces the inseparable source of music, images, and symbols from sound.

Conceptual and theoretical References

Foucault, M. (1978) ‘Politics and the Study of Discourse’ in Gordon, C (trans.) Ideology and Consciousness. No.3(spring), pp.7-26. 

Hall, S.(2001), Foucault: ‘Power, knowledge and discourse’ in Wetherell, M. et al. (eds.), Discourse Theory and Practice: A Reader. London: Open University, pp. 72–80 

Foucault, M. (1972) ‘Discursive Formations’ in Gallimard (eds.) The Archaeology of Knowledge: And the Discourse on Language. London: Tavistock. //Merzbow's music