CONSENSUS explores the idea of sonic unity.
When identical objects or people sound together they reinforce and compromise each other, amplifying similarity while emphasising difference. Two performers attempting to copy each other spark a negative feedback loop. As a blindfolded amateur choir sings the same note together for one hour the pitch bends, swoops and disintegrates. Without a clear reference point the differences between bodies – their proximity, communicative precision and physical limits – become apparent.
Australian artist Julian Day has spent the past five years investigating this concept through a body of installations and performances. His ongoing collaborative sound project Super Critical Mass, for instance, brings together temporary communities of participants who disperse identical sounds (50 bells, 80 voices, 100 flutes) within parks, galleries, laneways and malls, following simple memorized instructions that articulate the sonic, social and spatial aspects of each situation.
Similarly, his installation Lovers features pairs of identical synthesizers pinned apart between wall and ceiling by long metal rods. The rods trigger identical notes on each instrument that sound perpetually throughout the space, creating complex energy fields that agitate territory. As with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House, the perpetual sameness (a sonic ‘ganzfeld’ of unchanging information) leads to a dynamic yet ambient neutrality in which the listener is simultaneously activated (their body immersed in energy) and decentred (lacking depth of field).
His work with fellow artist Luke Jaaniste, Turning The Tables On, involves multiple turntables playing copies of the same record: Hooked On Classics, Tubular Bells, Oxygene, Chariots Of Fire. The styli are compromised by foreign objects such as coins placed on the vinyl so that the records stagger across time, creating a disorienting maze of self-similar information.
CONSENSUS presents new work within this arc, comprising sculpture, video and performance. It is the result of a current two-week residency at bb15.