Chicago Soundscape Project | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago Soundscape Project


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As you read this, you're probably hearing a variety of sounds that you're not listening to--sounds of the street, sounds of appliances, sounds so common you don't notice they're there until they stop. A "soundscape" forces you to listen to the sounds emanating from a particular environment by placing them into the context of a recording or a concert and pointing to their aesthetic potential. As an artistic form, soundscape has roots in the orchestral music of Edgard Varese, who tried to mimic urban din; in the assemblages of John Cage and his disciples; in 20s German and Soviet avant-garde filmmakers who recorded street sights and sounds; and most of all in musique concrete, pioneered by French composers in the 50s. The Chicago Soundscape Project is the brainchild of Lou Mallozzi, who came up with the idea of marshaling sounds from eight Chicago communities three years ago after a discussion with German media artist and radio producer Hans Ulrich Werner. The soundscapes designed by Mallozzi and seven collaborators incorporate suggestions from and sounds recorded by members of the communities. Tod Szewczyk, for example, asked bicycle messengers to record sounds as they whizzed through the Loop. He then compiled, filtered, and layered the results to resemble what he heard when he worked as a messenger. Dawn Mallozzi, in a tribute to the south-side steel mills of her youth, has constructed an aural representation of the Acme Steel Company. Other sites represented in the hour-long show include a high school, a detention center, and City Hall. Werner and another German colleague, Michael Rüsenberg, will present sonic interludes using material collected by the Chicago artists. Sunday, 2 PM, Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee; 784-0449.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Dawn V. Mallozzi.

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