Text and photos by by Sheryl Quiambao
Philippine sound art is at its baseline stage – but it’s worth listening to.
It was like getting into a laboratory. The place you see in movies where the walls are white and quaint objects making unfamiliar sounds. The exhibition notes stated that the show defies the typical definition of a Manila art show. All these were different – theme, method and medium, at least to this one viewing it for the first time. Here, the artworks are not objects but the sound the objects make. It was indeed, a laboratory, if such word in the arts still applies.
The pieces were simple: the ‘mallet’ drumlike contraptions a little bigger than tape dispensers tapping against ceramic while the other was the ‘blower’, ocarinas connected to a fan box via clear pipes. The sound produced was archaic and natural, the crisp beating of plexiglass against cooked clay and the soft whistles of the ocarina from a little propeller at its top. The instruments were placed in various places, along with other pieces of pottery by Wee under a scaffolding, some on taller platforms and one by the corner where the most light comes by in the afternoon.
On its launch, the harmony that filled the space is a serious mix of space sounds made by the guest performance artists and the gentle cacophony of the mallet and blower delicately adjusted at some points. It was almost a lullaby, if not for the chatter of the people around. The experience can be compared to being in a shrine, but not all calm and static. At times the sound would go fast, not enough to guess which note would be next. As a whole, the show was a curious workshop in its early stages – raw and messy. But be reminded, it was an experiment. And experiments are not yet final.
This article is part of a series of submissions from the “Art Writing for Media” workshop hosted by Art+ Magazine and Kwago.