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Artists Ronald Kuivila and Edwin van der Heide Get Electrified at SMAK in Gent
Edwin Van der Heide, Pneumatic Sound Field (museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

GENT.- The exhibition features two leading artists Ronald Kuivila (US) and Edwin van der Heide (NL). In spite of their age difference and divergent careers, they show interesting parallels from an artistic point of view. Both artists bring compositions to the Kunst Nu (Art Now) space of the S.M.A.K. and to the Citadelpark, in which elements of nature play an important part. Ronald Kuivila (°1955, lives and works in New York) was one of the first sound artists to work with sound sampling and ultrasound in live performances. His sound installations are based on a range of unusual self-built electronic instruments and all sorts of electronic devices which he has designed himself. In recent years he has worked mainly with musical algorithms, speech synthesis and special power current phenomena. He has worked with Anthony Braxton, Nicolas Collins, Merce Cunningham and others. Ron Kuivila is also Professor of Sound Art at Wesleyan University.

The specific architectural form of the Kunst Nu (Art Now) space inspired us to bring Ron Kuivila’s sound installation ‘Skewed Lines’ to Ghent. In the long dark space the artist stretches two pairs of parallel steel wires between which electric high voltage power is used to create sparks. In this way vibrations generate a fickle pulsation, which is both regular and unpredictable. The sound produced by sparks – in contrast with the sound produced by instruments or loudspeakers - has no ‘body’. The electrically heated air expands and causes a shockwave that is heard as a loud bang. This is an intense sound for the human ear and it is instinctively intensified by the visual perception of flashes of light. Exactly like the acoustic and optic effects we experience during a thunderstorm. For once we will take the advice to stay indoors during a storm very literally!

Edwin van der Heide (°1970, works in Rotterdam) is a young Dutch artistcomposer who moves in the margins of and across the neatly defined fields of music, sound, and media art. He began with performances using self-made instruments based on sensors. This led to a kind of music with a pronounced body-oriented approach and an emphasis on the sound itself. Over the course of the years, the focus of his work has shifted toward an interest in ‘space’ as an instrument. Striking in this respect is his evolution with regard to work in public space. His artistic investigation takes shape in sound installations, interactive installations and environments. Furthermore he is also a lecturer, at the University of Leiden amongst other places.

On the occasion of Electrified Edwin van der Heide presents the installation ‘Pneumatic Sound Field’. In this work a continuum is created between the rhythmic and the spatial perception of sound and the perception of pitch. A horizontal compressor is made to generate wind, pressure and sound, resulting in a sort of ‘breath’. The compressed air is linked to controllable pneumatic shapes that form an acoustic sound in the environment. The installation consists of a grid with a series of bars which cover a space of about 10 by 20 meters and will be erected in the Citadelpark. The audience is challenged to look for its own place within this environmental sound.

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