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Visceral soundscape to fill Calgary’s +15 spaces

By Rachel Woodward, May 19 2016 —

Michael Trommer, a Toronto-based sound and video artist, will showcase his new sonic art installment, Spectral Sound System, in the +15s surrounding the Alberta Theatre Projects building until the end of August.

Initially working with video, Trommer quickly became interested in the way sound can have a profound effect on the body.

He says he’s particularly intrigued by the way sound can alter physical states and spaces.

“I remember as a kid being fascinated by the tactility of sound,” Trommer says. “It’s not just the sound, it’s actually the feel of the sound, which is interesting because it makes you think of sound as something other than what is purely audible. It’s a medium that can be structural when you think of it as vibration.”

Trommer used induction microphones to record sounds from  pathways in places like Toronto, Tokyo, Berlin and Montreal.

“[The microphones] pick up electromagnetic frequencies and these spaces are just completely ripe with all sorts of signals like security systems and there are constantly signals going through them,” he says. “Even when there’s nobody in there, the space is still active and working as part of this vast global network of stuff going on.”

Trommer says the goal is to use the recordings to create layers of meditative and tactile sound that will fill the +15 spaces around Calgary.

“It’s these spaces that are completely artificial, and they are kind of ‘non-places.’ They are places of transition that people pass through,” he says. “They are huge spaces and there’s nobody in there but everything is still working — all the climate control systems are on. You hear all these whirrs and hums of all the equipment working but it’s this weird, completely deserted space.”

Trommer also recorded infrasound and ultrasound to add tangible feeling to the audio. He says the waves fill the air and add more depth to the audio experience of moving through spaces like the +15s.

The artist hopes people who pass through the installation will take a moment to hear the spaces they are in and experience more than what is usually presented to them.

“As you’re moving around, you are obviously surrounded by sound, but most people don’t actually listen to these sounds,” Trommer says. “They are listening for sonic information that they think is going to be important. I think if you listen to what’s going on around you, there’s a richness and it tells you a lot about where you are and who you are. These places are omnipresent and perpetual — they are always on and always

Spectral Sound System will play in the +15 hallways connected to  Alberta Theatre Projects until the end of August.

For information on Spectral Sound System, visit artscommons.ca

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