72 St. Louis Musicians Record the Soundtrack for Laumeier Sculpture Park
Art and life co-habitate, informing, imitating, and enriching each other constantly. Each week in Better Living Through Music, RFT Music writer Ryan Wasoba explores this symbiotic relationship
This weekend, the Site/Sound exhibition opens at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Local electronic sensei Eric Hall invited 70 or so local musicians to record pieces inspired by different sculptures in the park. These folks range from seasoned sound scientists (Raglani, Darin Gray) to oddball rock bands (Humdrum, The Conformists) to pretentious ass clowns who are genetically unable to grow a "noise guy" beard (Ryan Wasoba).
I leapt at the opportunity to contribute. I was giddy when I received Hall's email, but I wasn't anticipating the tension between the visual and aural mediums. The beauty of any art form is its vagueness. A song may hint at images but it leaves space for interpretation. A piece of visual art is arguably less suggestive toward an accompanying sound. This issue manifests in music videos. I can't hear "Today" by the Smashing Pumpkins without thinking of an ice cream truck, or "Fell In Love With A Girl" by the White Stripes without thinking about Legos. This is not necessarily negative, but the practice takes away some mystery by implanting an image into a song.
The larger tension with Site/Sound is one of time. A sculpture might inspire a sound, but it gives little suggestion to how long the sound should occur. An observer may need to examine a sculpture for a while before its details are fully revealed, but a listener can only comprehend a track in real time. How long can a Laumeier visitor be expected to stay in one place, listening to one piece of music while looking at one sculpture?