Stanley Picker Gallery is pleased to present I can’t hear myself think!, a display of new artworks by the participants of workshops inspired by Furniture Music, an installation of soundscapes and household product prototypes by internationally renowned product designer and sound artist, Yuri Suzuki, exhibited in our main gallery space until 21 April.
Featuring: Welmede Grange Collective, King Athelstan Primary, St Luke’s C of E Primary, St Andrew’s & St Mark’s C of E Junior, The Kingston Academy, Grey Court 6th Form, Kingston Young Peoples’ Board, and Kingston University BA Music.
In Furniture Music, as a culmination of his Stanley Picker Fellowship, Yuri Suzuki explores the definition of sound design in our contemporary period. The title Furniture Music comes from French composer Eric Satie’s description of his own music as ‘a sound that should not be actively listened to, but present at the periphery of our daily lives’. Suzuki’s work seeks to examine exactly those sounds at the periphery, which can greatly impact our environments, and offer solutions to real-world problems by challenging how these sounds are designed.
Despite recent advances, he finds that sound design at the manufacturing level is falling behind other areas of design and technology, partly due to the field’s lack of definition. The everyday sounds of our contemporary industrialised society – such as those from computers, mobiles, appliances, transport, construction, and more – generate dramatic levels of noise pollution affecting psychological processes of the brain – such as one’s mood – in ways we are often unaware of. Developed out of Suzuki’s investigation on how sound affects us, Furniture Music attempts to re-design the domestic soundscape and propose ways for sound to not turn into noise but rather help enhance harmony and comfort within one’s surrounding environment.
‘When you do your laundry, why must you listen to a dreadful pounding noise that may distract you from your tasks or simply take you away from the present?’, states Suzuki. ‘Could a washing machine make a beautiful ambient sound instead? Our lives may be made easier with technology taking care of most of our chores, but perhaps, with a little imagination, we could redefine how sound impacts on our mental wellbeing’.
Workshop participants explored Furniture Music, where they experienced the “calming” and “hypnotic” Sound of the Waves immersive installation, and the “very inventive” re-designed domestic appliances (including a washing machine!) – perfect for “DJ-ing in your own home”. They actively considered the background noises of their school, street, and home – including the sounds in their heads – and debated the positive and negative impact that these may be having upon themselves and their peers. We spoke about the role that sound (specifically the sounds of making) play in our shared cultural heritage, and how these noises may be lost, or transform over time. During their visits, groups participated in a number of activities – among them, active listening, free writing, instinct drawing, collage, interviews with fellow artists and musicians, DJ-ing, Sound recording and laying down tracks, and re-imagining (with only minor controversy!) the soundscape of their daily lives.
Alongside this, some groups attended presentations of work by Kingston University Music students, and embarked upon special guided tours around Kingston School of Art studios and Library where degree students are currently engrossed in preparing for their own end of year shows. Amid nosing through sketchbooks and listening to music, the lucky Stanley Picker artists were invited to quiz the said students about their techniques and inspirations, and share some of their own creations, for feedback in return.
Outcomes of these experiences, co-curated by workshop participants, will be exhibited both onsite in Stanley Picker Lobby 21-23 March, with mp3 downloads of project soundscapes to be available online shortly after,
The Gallery team have been impressed by imagination and design skills of all, and hope that you will join us in celebrating their achievements.