Listening is a perception that is often left behind in artistic circuits and industries. Since the 1970s when sound art appeared as a separate discipline, different strategies were used to make sound and listening exercises more notorious or conscious. Even though these strategies helped to put sound on stage (music, noise, and various compositions), it has other means of distribution, separate from visual art. Today we also find an NFT circuit that has relegated the audio to silence in a similar way to the platforms in which we access content (like social media, streaming platforms, and video games). Although there is a level of concern around this situation, the sound still seems to be put in second place: it is turned off by default.
Listening is a highly charged emotional experience, operating in that part of a symbolic field that we are not prepared to approach. What exactly do we miss when we forget to turn on the sound of an artwork? Can this aspect of the crypto art reveal something about our modernity? How does this particular sound look like?
This selection of tokenized artworks allows us to see and listen at the same time. Here we look at the aesthetic climate of a region, exploring artistic strategies between digital and discursive tools created to express ideas and feelings through sound.
In Faktor’s artwork, the main focus lies on tension and rhythm. The correlation between visual and sound resources creates a synergy that powers up both. The audio here is not just a sound effect supporting the visual but rather the opposite: the visual aspect of the artwork operates as support for the sound, bringing a lot of elements to the artwork discourse. In a cinema traveling movement, a central object appears. It has much in common with human flesh, reminding us of a body part. The meaty object is crisping as if it is having an electric shock. Its texture responds to the sound wave of a higher or lower frequency; changing its shape frenetically to adapt to the environment.
Crash touches on topics of abstraction of life and the body. This theme is intrinsic in Faktor's works. It might be influenced by high level of technological progress, human practices, and science fiction.
Sofja and Astrosuka are two artists and musicians exploring cryptoart scene. In order to experiment with their music on blockchain, they developed a customized platform that would suit their requirements, needs, and vision. Unun.link is an experimental label that prioritizes local ties and showcases artists from a particular scene, using Web3 tools. Antena is a part of their second release: it is one of the five tracks from Ocelo album, that includes compositions by QOA, Yoto, Vic Bang, and Gregorio Nash (Argentinian musicians from the Buenos Aires underground scene).
Antena's digital aesthetics and the sounds it implements are eloquent with its support, which, besides being digital, is based on the discursive and logistical possibilities of the web. Each minting in unun.link generates a procedural cover art (random and unique) that accompanies one of the tracks from the album.
Janice Mascarenhas’ sound hair is a video piece where silence takes a powerful presence. Everything in this work refers to an almost tangible sound, creating a powerful image: friction with the hair displaces the speakers' material.
Hair and nails (dead cells of the body) invade and replace the sound reproduction device. And although it is not possible to guarantee that speakers made of braids can produce sound, it is possible to affirm that they do evoke it. In Janice's work, there is a clear and direct handling of the symbols pointing toward Black culture. Although the aesthetics of this work is minimalistic, the few existing elements make the image overflow with funk (carioca), meaning the music is symbolically implicit.
The multiple channels, various materials, and rhetorical skills interspersed genuinely and organically in this piece, making Janice's silence simple and strong.
#002 Dispossession is an exercise in challenging the way we produce knowledge. In this work Rikka explores the history of her family - it is a story of translation, migrations, diaspora, memories, identity, and cultural tradition. The visual part of this work was made in collaboration with fo7ons - it is accompanied by a sensitive sound composition by a Brazilian producer charlie noir. The fragile yet brave discourse of the artwork is so tuned and complete that it seems you can read the feelings of the story by closing your eyes and listening to the ambient proposed by charlie. It includes the travels, the emptiness, the reality distortion, the sublime storm, and a sea that unifies everything as a common and elemental mother. It is all about the tension between belonging and not belonging.
This mutual understanding between the collaborating artists shows that they can resonate with each other’s practices by sharing similar experiences or feelings about their social environment.
Sound and image always have the same level of importance in Mateo Amaral’s work, where he builds fiction using different tools to break the limits of the narrative. This audiovisual piece is part of the project Éramos la Humanidad (We Were Humanity), created in collaboration with the creative programmer Joan Sol Roo. In this piece artist uses a video game engine combined with algorithms to articulate a set of sounds and 3D elements (created by Mateo). The composite logic is an attempt to avoid the human sense, to imagine a story far from our time, one where humanity is almost forgotten. The relationship between the elements is never entirely linear, however, it still obeys a pendular movement whose ultimate goal is not necessarily to produce meaning. The sound, even if taken as a sound effect, helps to construct this broken story that doesn’t aim to go anywhere but outside human language.
Render Fruit stands out by impressive image quality, beautiful animations, and oniric themes. The sound—also designed by the artist—maintains high quality, and works well with the image. The sound here can go unnoticed because it immediately turns into part of the scene, reinforcing the storytelling and allowing us to get inside the other world.
“Neurons” is the second work in this Curator’s choice by Render Fruit. It is included here because they are united by a similar idea with “Adaption”, operating as chapters for the same thought. The artist immerses us in a world created to formalize an abstract sensation, a suggestive image, and a mantric sound loop, which brings us closer to this inner and ominous peace for a body in a process of constant change, a body that is turning to the unknown.
Like the image, the sound of Vaccinated has an intriguing balance between reality and fantasy. This balance doesn’t rely on a spectacular effect but rather on a precise mixing of very familiar and warm elements with the absurd, the strange, and the artificial. Its magical touch is that you don't need a realistic representation to believe it. The piece does not try to trick you at any moment, you can accept it, and a big part of this charm is due to the subtle sound treatment: very natural and casual, with a special touch of humor in the border of the readable, somewhere between the funny and the ironic, between a self-portrait of social media and a Z movie. Maybe this is precisely where we are in this strange process of technical mutation. If it is true, the sound of this artwork should feel like home.
The strange is commonplace in this selection of sonic artworks, as well as the will to break free from a centralist mankind discourse and its representational crisis. The fact that all centrality generates margins by default gives us a clue of how important it is to observe the surroundings, where the otherness, the invisible, and the relegated support the central as the maximum point of attention. Around us, there will always be sound.