sa Sound Arts vol. 5

XEBEC SoundCulture Membership Magazine

Special Topics:

European Electro-Acoustic Music and Expectations for Sound Art

(Lecturer of Psychology and Contemporary Music)

In this series, FUJISHIMA Yutaka refers to sound art, the cutting edge of European electro-acoustic music, as he considers modernism in music from the perspective of originality. Beginning with Pierre BOULEZ in SA vol. 3, and Max NEUHAUS and Bill FONTANA in SA vol. 4, this marks the third installment by Fujishima, who presented one example of current electronic music in the "Computer Plus Strings Electric" concert held at Xebec last year.

The Realization of Dreams

In the last issue of SoundArts, I addressed the concept of "power" as an aspect of our desires, domination of the environment (Boulez's music) as the product of an artificial modernism, and the symbiotic relationship with the environment (sound art) that is the product of anti-modernism. If, as FREUD revealed, desires are essentially anti-social, why is it that the music of Boulez in its attempted control of space has been welcomed by the bureaucracy?

The reason is simple: government itself is anti-social. (*1) Though sound artists are not unconscious of controlling sound in music, their work sometimes meets with hostility from people despite the lack of their conscious aural perception of it (as seen in works such as Time Piece by Max NEUHAUS). People are overly sensitive about art, dreams.

Two Arizona Dreams

Fujishima Image 1 In the summer of 1993, I went to Arizona to visit two communities, Arcosanti and Biosphere 2. (*2) Arcosanti was a kind of mecca for the hippie culture of the 60s and 70s where would-be architects who had strayed from society hung out for a while. It was a time when even those who realized the arrogance (*3 ) of modern architecture, in its desire to dominate the environment, were unable to make any convincing arguments against it. After embarking on their journeys, these architects created Arcosanti as a communal Utopia in the middle of the desert, but were undoubtedly longing for their time to come without fully realizing the power they possessed. In those days, I was an innocent student frequenting the Japan World Expo in Senri, Osaka, and it wasn't until the early 80s that I realized how anti-modernistic Arcosanti was.

But by 1993, Arcosanti was just a historical site. It seemed to me that the dream of harmony with human technology (architecture) and the tranquil flow of time there had gone out of date. I drove next to Biosphere 2 to have a look at a technological ecology this time, instead of a primitive ecology. Biosphere 2, the second Earth, was created on September 26, 1991 as the second planet populated by living creatures. It was almost exactly two years later that I visited--three weeks before the eight Biospherians returned to the Earth. According to John ALLEN, the director of the project, the purpose of Biosphere 2 is to study the mechanisms that allow the natural environment, the earth, to regulate itself. To try and control the entire planet through human technology is indeed a big project. In Arcosanti, a calm life unfolds within a water-based natural cooling system as bells are made and natural foods are eaten. In contrast, Biospherians make their life in a five-story habitat designed for humans. Cooking is done in a kitchen equipped with a refrigerator and microwave oven, and communication with the outside world is maintained by fax and videophones. The inner environment of the dome, completely cut off from the outside world, is monitored by sensors and controlled by a cybernetic system. Is controlling the ecology the only way for us to survive? It's natural to use technology in the way that the Biosphere project does, as if the sole purpose was anthropocentric life. Yet, this project definitely has a blind faith in technology; there is a total lack of doubt there. Fujishima Image 2

Belief and Disbelief

It is often argued that by isolating artistic activities from intellectualism, religion, and morality, the meaning of art itself will be lost. (*4) There is no need to allude to NIETZSCHE's words, "Gott ist tot," because modern people feel betrayed by God, and the existential basis for humanism (*5) was lost with the Vietnam War. Where do intellectualism, religion, and morality exist in our society ? To find new models in these areas, art of the present is pursuing dreams. It is not, however, easy to find new paradigms for such things. I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary first to develop a radical disbelief in the present environment. Disbelief itself (*6) is a useful strategy and it is my hope that technology will be used as an instrument of disbelief. Radical disbelief will lead to a new kind of belief, and that belief will be filled with the pleasure of living together with other people. The Socialization of Dreams I believe that sound art should be created by exploring the environment with radical disbelief. If this results in the pleasure of living together, the dreams of others (sound art) will then be accepted. Fujishima Image 2

(All photographs by FUJISHIMA Yutaka.)

*1:The truth is, the authorities have found in it a suitable method of hiding their desires.

*2:It is possible to stay at both Arcosanti and Biosphere 2. Contact Arcosanti at (602)632-7135 (between 9:00am and 5:00pm); and Biosphere 2 at (602)825-6400 or by fax at (602)825-6471.

*3:Ever since an architect, who was in love with a cousin of mine, quit his job at the Tange architectural firm and set off for the Arizona desert, Arcosanti has occupied my thoughts.

*4:For thoughts on whether art is the product of intuition or allows the intervention of this sort of purposeful will, see, for example, Thought, Action and Intuition as a Symposium on the Philosophy of Benedetto Croce, edited by L.M. PALMER & H.S. HARRIS (Georg Olms Verlag, 1975).

*5:See the ideas of two Americans who represent philosophies based on a belief in human development: the educator, John DEWEY, and the psychologist, Carl ROGERS.

*6:SHINRAN is one example of someone who practiced his religious pursuits with radical disbelief. See Explorations into the Heart of Shinran by SATO Masahide (Seidosha, 1991)

Table of Contents

SoundArts 5
Akio Suzuki part 1 Carl Stone
CD Review
Peter Vogel
To SoundArts Back Issues Back to Carl Stone Home Page