The Flemish city of Leuven is launching a multidisciplinary art experience this month where Belgian and international sound artists invite visitors to listen consciously to the acoustics of the city. To enhance the experience, the sounds are to be listened to during unusual walks in different parts of the city.
In Hear Here, fourteen resounding artworks are spread out across ten heritage locations. Every installation engages in an acoustic dialogue with the architecture and the surroundings. The solid brick walls of the KADOC chapel resonate differently from the Botanical Garden in full spring.
This relation between sound, acoustics and perception is a key element in sound art. From buzzing bees to droning organ pipes, from the search for silence to noise disturbance in the North Sea: Hear Here is a surprising discovery route for all ages. Put on those walking boots and experience Leuven heritage sites with different ears and eyes. Below is just a glimpse of what visitors will be able to discover.
1. Liew Niyomkarn
Antwerp based musician and sound artist Liew Niyomkarn creates a site specific sound piece for the Leuven town hall’s courtyard (‘Vrijthof’). Entitled We will echo time until the end of it, she uses musical methods and poetry of the 15th century — the time in which the town hall was built. A prerecorded composition incorporating polyphonic elements, Renaissance poetry and field recordings of the present time is spatialized by four megaphone speakers positioned in different spots. The artist transforms the courtyard into a container of memories of love and conversion, delivering an immersive experience within the time and space where one’s interior and exterior worlds blend into one.
2. Esther Venrooij
On the Process of Becoming Silent and Listening is an essay film by Dutch composer, artist and researcher Esther Venrooij. The starting point is a text about perceiving (looking, listening, feeling) a space. It is not so much about the tangible things that create a space or environment, but about how one can experience a space through stillness, listening and slipping into a dreamlike state of mind. The cinematic images are physical, standing on the same level as the viewer, with filmed performers being life-sized. Slow and meditative camera movements are scanning the rooms, exploring and at the same time reserved, which at certain moments contrasts with the abstract and sometimes noisy soundtrack.
3. Stijn Demeulenaere
Underwater, sight is limited to often just a few meters, especially in the murky North Sea. Underwater sounds, on the other hand, travel much much further. And for this reason, marine life relies on sound for their communication, foraging and mating, through clicks, grunts and mysterious chants. Others navigate via echolocation. However, the North Sea is one of the busiest in the world, almost every inch of it knows some form of human occupation. Therefore the North Sea is also one of the loudest in the world, human sounds blanketing the whole sea floor.
Noise from the countless ships, but also drilling, oil rigs, the construction of wind farms, fishing, and fish farms. This background noise disturbs the communication of marine life or even causes physical pain. Belgian sound artist Stijn Demeulenaere went to sea for a poetic exploration of the invisible soundscape under the water surface. He made underwater recordings that he incorporated into an audiovisual installation. Six speakers provide the soundtrack to a tube of nine sample containers, each holding a seawater sample from one of the locations where Demeulenaere recorded.
The title of the installation, Zijlijn or Linea Lateralis, refers to the organ in certain fish that detects pressure variations in the water, and is connected to their hearing. This ‘linea lateralis’ evolved from the same proto-organ that our own ears evolved from.
4. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot
The installations of the French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot are minimalist investigations into sound and space, often fostering altered perceptual states of suspension and meditation. In clinamen, floating white porcelain bowls slowly circulate in a sunken pool, moved by a hidden pump. The sounds of the collisions produce a percussive soundscape of unexpected musicality, while their movement is a mesmerizing invitation to contemplation.
Boursier-Mougenot’s large-scale installations often bring together natural and manufactured elements, such as zebra finches and amplified electric guitars in his emblematic work From Here To Ear. Similarly, in clinamen, the artist combines a composed structure with the indeterminacy of bowls floating around in a random, unpredictable manner, depending on the shape and size of the pool, the temperature and speed of the water. Previous iterations of clinamen have been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou-Metz and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. For Hear Here, Boursier-Mougenot and STUK have built a new version designed especially for the round KADOC Chapel.
Other artists include John Grzinich, Bouke Groen, Rie Nakajima, Phillip Sollmann & Konrad Sprenger, An Roovers, Félix Blume, Floris Vanhoof, Mario de Vega, Maika Garnica & Nico Dockx, Amber Meulenijzer, Christoph De Boeck.
Discover the locations
- 23 April until 6 June 2022
- Wednesdays to Sundays: 14:00-19:00
- Town Hall/Visit Leuven (start)
- Museum M Leuven
- Anatomisch Theater
- BAC ART LAB