In 2013, I attended Eye for an Ear sound festival in Berlin to listen to a talk by Professor Andrey Smirnov who had recently published his book Sound in Z: Experiments in sound and electronic music in early 20th century Russia. This was my first introduction to a whole world of previously unheard of artists, musicians, philosophers and scientists working in the 1920s and 30s after the revolution. These pioneering artists were imagining a new future post the revolution and I became fascinated by this historical period and their inventions, theories and projects to build a future utopia and rethink what man could be in the new Soviet society. The cross pollination of arts and science were evident in the culture of state funded experimentation labs, which were initially backed by Lenin through his pursuit of artists who could create ‘art for the people’. An industrial and factory worker like approach to artistic processes resulted in this being a radical and prolific period where many futuristic inventions and ideas were realised and envisiaged. Much of their work paved the way for the future of electronic and computerised music yet little is known about the work of these artists. This was due to Stalinist totalitarian policies from the mid 20s onwards where intellectuals were expelled and their work destroyed.
Arseny Avraamov was an avante garde musician, intellectual and artist investigating new ways of synthesising sounds and exploring microtonal music. His ‘Symphony of Sirens’ performance in the town of Baku in 1922 (where he performed the sounds of industry by conducting factory sirens and ship fog horns), and his ultrachromatic were indicative of his genius but it is his invention of graphical sound and methods of putting sound onto film that really inspired us artistically.
Avraamov’s explorations into hand drawn ornamental sound coupled with Voinov’s paper sound experiments are the inspiration for our Noise Orchestra project. We are fascinated by the basic principle of being able to listen to the sound of shapes. We are going to use light theremins (on Arduino circuit boards), turntables and paper stencils to play the sounds of the objects and 2D images in the National Media Museum archives to create ou Noise Orchestra performance. We will also be sampling the sound of the Russian noise machines and the mechanical noises of the photographic and cinematic objects in the collections to create soundscapes. We would like to thank Professor Smirnov, his work to popularise the work of these artists has captivated us and galvanised us to pursue this project.
Read about Sound in Z and Andrey Smirnov here http://asmir.info/