Judson Church
NON-PLACE / PLACE - A SONIC EXCHANGE was a collaborative installation and performance by Daniel Neumann and Gill Arno presented during the Ear to the Earth Festival 2012 at the Judson Church in New York City.

Concept and realization: Daniel Neumann and Gill Arno

Local participants: Andrew Lafkas, Barry Weisblat, Ben Owen, Dave Ruder, David Galbraith, DIA, Jason Brogan, Jennifer Grossman, Madeleine Shapiro, Richard Kamerman, Theres Wegmann (graphic design), Tyler Wilcox.

International participants: Alan Courtis (Argentina), Bernd Schurer (Switzerland), Ernst Karel (U.S.), Estherb (Canada), Gil Sanson (Venezuela), Gilles Aubry (Switzerland/Germany), Jason Kahn (U.S./Switzerland), Joda Clément (Canada), John Grzinich (U.S./Estonia), Jordan Paul (U.S.), Martin Janicek (Czech Republic), Pali Mersault (France), Patrick Franke (Germany), Patrick McGinley (U.S./Estonia), Sebastien Roux (France), Simon Whetham (United Kingdom).

From the program

Gill Arno and Daniel Neumann organize field recordings sent by multiple phonographers from many countries in space and time. A group of local sound artists and musicians, performing with acoustic as well as electronic instruments, then create an acoustic topology of where we are in a world of non-place spaces, of presence and solitude.

The concept of non-place is based on anthropologist Marc Augé’s observation that airports, railway stations, leisure parks, hotel chains, and supermarkets, for examples, are places of transience that are not significant enough to us to be considered places in our lives. They are non-places because they do not relate to us, or contain a history that we share, or an identity that is ours, whereas we have a relationship and feel a history and identity with what we think of as places. In Augé’s words, “Non-places are the real measure of our time …” They suggest a perspective of, as he calls it, supermodernity, in which travelers feel part of a larger world yet feel solitude, as if they are always yet never at home.

Daniel Neumann explains the concept as represented in the music: “The musicians on-site in Judson Church are confronted with an acoustic environment of displaced recordings which address the notion of non-places. Gill and I have specified different modes of listening as the ‘score’ for the concert, which the musicians follow in their reactions to the environment and to each other. We chose musicians that have a vocabulary of textural, unusual sounds rather than traditional, expressive melodies, and in their listening and reacting, we ask them to remember that neither places nor non-places ever exist in pure form. One can have characteristics of both and can change into the other.”

Monday, November 26, 2-8pm
Sound material contributed by:
Alan Courtis (Argentina) - Tokio Train, Bernd Schurer (Switzerland) - Construction Sonor Environment 1, Ernst Karel (U.S.) - Headworks: Chelsea Creek and Deer Island, Estherb (Canada) Bonaventure Highway Griffintown, Gil Sanson (Venezuela) - From A To B / Highway, Gilles Aubry (Switzerland/Germany) - Terminal X (Departures), Jason Kahn (U.S./Switzerland) - Giesshuebel, Joda Clément (Canada) - Three Recordings Of Distant Trains, John Grzinich (U.S./Estonia) - Lodztunnel Internal Ambience, Jordan Paul (U.S.) - Airport Smooth Jazz Recording, Martin Janicek (Czech Republic) - NP Tunnel 1-9, Pali Mersault (France) - Autoroute, Patrick Franke (Germany) - Labor Sonor, Patrick McGinley/Murmur (U.S./Estonia) - Kenting Harbour and Muhlenberg Lobby, Sebastien Roux (France) - Four Persons Walking Towards The Center Of Spiral Jetty, Simon Whetham (United Kingdom) - Hydrophone Recording Guadalajara Mexico.

The performers improvise together by following instruction scores that they build independently, either before or during the performance. Scores are constructed by following a set of rules which rather than indicating what to play guide the perceptual focus within the installation toward specific ways to listen:
Andrew Lafkas - acoustic bass, Barry Weisblat - electronics, Ben Owen - speaker boxes, Dave Ruder - electronics, David Galbraith - analog synthesizer, DIA - slide projector, Jason Brogan - guitar, Jennifer Grossman - alto sax, Madeleine Shapiro - cello, Richard Kamerman - guitar, Tyler Wilcox - soprano sax

a guided improvisation through modes of purposeful listening

The following instructions provide the framework for the construction of individual scores, to be performed by a group of improvisers gathered inside the space of the Non-place / Place sound installation. Rather than indicating what to play, the scores will guide each musician’s attention to the sounds as they appear and cease. The performers will then respond subjectively, thus establishing individual and collective dialogic relations with the whole resulting sonic environment.

3 variables define how to listen actively - THE LISTENING MODES*
I    Causal Listening: focusing on a sound in order to gather information about   its cause or source, listen to something, where is it from, context.
II  Semantic Listening: in reference to a code or a language; to interpret a mes-  sage, signs, signifi ers,meanings, direct cues.
III Reduced Listening: the listening mode that focuses on the formal traits of   the sound itself, independent of its cause and of its meaning.

3 variables identify what to listen to - THE SOUND MATERIAL
A  the field recordings which constitute the bare sound installation.
B  the sounds produced by other performers within the installation.
C  any other sounds: outside street sounds, audience sounds and other incidentals.

One additional variable establishes the possibility of a passive listening mode:
X Unfocused/Unintentional Listening
Its function can be described as a way to disengage momentarily the performer’s deep concentration.

Each musician determines 7 Listening States prior to the performance by combining pairs of {1 variable from Listening Modes (I - III) + 1 variable from Sound Materials (A-C)}, or a unit of {passive listening mode/unintentional listening (X)}. See below some examples of score sequences. Before the concert, the 7 Listening States, their sequence, and duration can either be decided beforehand or during the performance. Because durations are decided individually every performer needs to keep in mind to be finished with going through the 7 Listening States around 9pm. One can assign a limited amount of sounds to each variable of what to listen to. That way the focus will get more defined.

During the 60 minutes of the concert each musician goes through his/her/their 7 Listening States. The concert begins at 8pm. The installation will be running, providing an acoustic environment. There is no start signal or introduction: every performer is free to decide his/her/their entry point and can start anytime between 8pm and 9pm, simply by walking to the place she/he/they chose and begin with the score. Transitions between the Listening States can be quick or gradual, they must however be intentional. Performers can relocate when shifting to a new State. If a performer realizes that his/her/their listening attention has inadvertently been drifting then he/she/they should re-focus and return to the current State.
Only play when moved.
After completing the 7 Listening States, each musician steps away from his/her/their instrument or leaves the performance with it. As each musician determines independently the duration of his/her/their performing time, the concert ends whenever one of the following instances occur:
1) At any point before 9pm if all but one of the musicians have finished their sequence of 7 Listening States and have walked away. In other words, whenever only one musician is left, the concert ends.
2) At any point after 9pm the installation (field recording sound) may be stopped; the concert ends as each musician concludes his/her/their last Listening State and walks away, as described in 1).

The re-locating when shifting States should follow a certain focus from the next chosen State in the individual sequence. This could then lead to forming smaller local groups. Occasionally it may be difficult or impossible to determine the Causal or Semantic aspects of certain Sound Materials. In such circumstance, a performer is allowed to switch the current variable I (Causal) or II (Semantic) of a Listening State to III (Reduced Listening). Always keep in mind the independence between how/what to listen and what to play: for instance, if at the beginning of the concert none of the musicians has a Sound Material “A” or “C” in their score, that should not prevent anyone or all of them to fill the gap and start playing autonomously listening to the occurring silence in their focus-area.

1   {III (Reduced listening) + A (# of field recordings)}  06 min.
2   {I (Causal listening) + B (# of other musicians’ sound)}  10 min.
3   {III (Reduced listening) + B (# of other musicians’ sound)}  03 min.
4   {I (Causal listening) + C (# of any other sound)}  05 min.
5   {X (passive listening)}  09 min.
6   {II (Semantic listening) + B (# of other musicians’ sound)}  02 min.
7   {III (Reduced listening) + A (# of fi eld recordings)}  05 min.  
begin at 8:05pm; end at 8:50pm    45 min.   

1   {X (passive listening)}  04 min.
2   {III (Reduced listening) + B (2 of other musicians’ sound)}   08 min.    
note: move to group
3   {X (passive listening)}   01 min.
4   {III (Reduced listening) + A (all of field recordings)}   10 min.    
note: move
5   {X (passive listening)}   01 min.
6   {II (Semantic listening) + B (# of other musicians’ sound)}   02 min.    
note: move to group
7   {X (passive listening)}   04 min.  
begin at 8:30pm; end at 9:00pm     30 min. 

1   {X (passive listening)}  nn min.
2   {III (Reduced listening) + B (2 of other musicians’ sound)}  nn min.    
note: move to group
3   {X (passive listening)}   nn min.
4   {III (Reduced listening) + A (1 field recording)}  nn min.    
note: move to group
5   {X (passive listening)}   nn min.
6   {II (Semantic listening) + B (other musicians’ sound)}   nn min.    
note: move to group
7   {X (passive listening)}   nn min.  
begin time tbd; end at 9:00 pm     nn min.   
time of each Listening State tbd          


rather radical, but also possible score would be:

The program to download, designed by Theres Wegmann.