Bass Affects Exhibition

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In Bass Affects, Jo Burzynska invites an embodied and multisensory engagement with the emotional resonances of low frequency sound, which can be listened to, or remain unheard. Its installations stir and lull through their exploration of the nexus between the exciting and disquieting effects of the bass spectrum. Created largely from field recordings Burzynska has made in recent years of external low frequency phenomena, the sounds used are drawn from nature and human-made sources. These include the Pacific Ocean and electrical storms, to Lulworth Wind Farm, and Sydney Town Hall’s Grand Organ that possesses one of the world’s lowest pitched (8 Hz) pipes.

Low frequencies (below 200 Hz) are a much mythologised and misunderstood region of the sound spectrum. These frequencies – that are felt in the body as much as heard with the ear, and as infrasound (below 20 Hz) often on the threshold of hearing – move in mysterious ways. Bass tones are present in our body, in respiration and the beating of our hearts. In nature they emerge from the surf, and in the rumblings of seismic activity and storms. They’re emitted by machines in the industrial world. Humans actively use low frequencies in spiritual and cultural practices from bullroarers and church organs, to the beats of music we dance to. Attempts have also been made to harness them as weapons.

Yet historically, public research into the effects of low frequencies on humans remained limited. This deep void came to resonate with the repetition of findings from unreliable studies, misinformation, and far-fetched anecdotes, amplified by their regular repetition in sensationalist media coverage. Much of the purported physiological effects have now largely been disproved, with relaxation effects emerging as more likely than adverse health impacts. However, low frequency sound has become newly weaponised in attempts to discredit wind turbines, fanned by the fossil fuels industry. Such emotional manipulation and its psychological effects appear more forceful than any previous endeavours in sonic warfare.

From the sublime to the annoying, the wondrous to the threatening, context has come to direct more emotional power than the bass vibrations themselves. In Bass Affects, low frequencies from natural, devotional and industrial sources combine and converse, creating an expanded contextual spectrum that encourages a more open low frequency listening.

Jo Burzynska would like to thank Grace Kar Man Chan for making the Grand Organ roar; Malcolm Riddoch for his assistance with the recordings; and Sydney Town Hall and Lulworth Farm for providing access.

At: Audio Foundation
4 Poynton Terrace Auckland New Zealand
Opens: Friday 6 August 2021, 5.30pm 
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 4pm
Closes: Saturday 4 September

Amazuppai

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The Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
June 1-24, 2017

IMG_3737Jo Burzynska’s Amazuppai work for sound and wine was part of An Audacious Decade exhibition at The Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery in Christchurch, NZ. Amazuppai uses the interactions between sound and wine to explore the physical sensations, conceptual contrasts and subconscious synergies of ‘sweet and sour’. The knife-edge balance between these two contrary but often complementary tastes and their semantic associations is explored in Amazuppai (the Japanese for sweet-sour, comparable to the idea of bittersweet). This is reinforced and destabilised through the interplay of a crisp off-dry Riesling with a modulating soundscape.

This work was created as part of Jo’s current doctoral research at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. In this, she is investigating the interactions between sound and taste and applying this in the creation of installations that work at the intersections of the senses.

Wines for the research for this piece generously supplied by the Sydney International Wine Competition and the 2015 Waipara Riesling for the installation by Pegasus Bay.

Oenosthesia: Australian premiere

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Recording a fermentationOenosthesia: a wine and sound experience
Wednesday 1st March – 6pm

Black Box (D106, First floor, D Block), UNSW Art & Design, Greens Rd, Paddington, Sydney NSW 2021

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Experience the fascinating transformations that occur when wine and sound combine at the inaugural Australian presentation of Jo Burzynska’s Oenosthesia, sound and wine project. Created from blending a soundscape of recordings made from the winemaking process with wines tasted during the piece, the work will premiere in Sydney on 1st March 2017 as part of the launch of the Writing Around Sound journal that Jo co-edits.

In Oenosthesia, Jo explores the way in which sound influences the perception of a wine’s taste and texture through the changing timbres and frequencies of the sonic element in combination with different styles of wine tasted during the work. Oenosthesia brings together Jo’s two professional interests as a sound artist and wine writer to create a unique experience based on the science of sensory interaction. The work was initially created as an installation from a “Suoni dal confine” artist residency in Irpinia, Italy and premiered at the Interferenze New Art Festival’s Factory of Art Rurality and Media 2012 in Tufo, Italy. It has since been presented at Rome’s MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts, at Studio Sienko in London and at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Physics Room Gallery in New Zealand.

 

Jo is currently engaged in research into the interaction of sound and taste as part of a PhD at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). This presentation is being made as part of this research, with participants invited to provide feedback via a short questionnaire at the end of the work.

 

Jo Burzynska has a career spanning two decades in wine and sonic art. As a wine writer and wine judge she has contributed to wine magazines and competitions internationally and is the author of the book, Wine Class (Random House). She is also an active sound artist, whose work in recent years has increasingly drawn on her interest in taste and olfaction in projects that include multisensory installations and performances, as well as establishing of the world’s first “oenosthetic” bar at The Auricle in New Zealand where she matched wines with the exhibitions and the sounds in the space. She also writes on sound and has had articles published in magazines such as The Wire and is the co-editor of Writing Around Sound sonic arts journal, the third issue of which is launched at this event.

Wines kindly supplied by Pegasus Bay, Quartz Reef and The Boneline.
The exclusive glass sponsor for this event and Jo’s research is Riedel.

 

 

 

 

 

Making crossmodal connections

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A visit to Occidental College’s multisensory labSasha & carmel small

While in LA I took the opportunity to catch up with cognitive scientists Carmel Levitan and Sasha Sherman at their multisensory lab at Occidental College. I was keen to learn more about their research into sensory interaction given Carmel’s previous research into crossmodal correspondences between music, odour and emotion and Sasha’s interest in the brain and art.

 

As well as pursuing their own research in the multisensory labs, Carmel and Sasha use with students to study how the different senses interact to influence a range of perceptual and cognitive states, and the role of social and emotional factors in mediating these states.

 

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Sasha demonstrated an interesting experiment investigating whether priming participants with the same rhythm before a task made them work better together in performing it. With Carmel I sniffed some of the unfamiliar scents created for one of her olfactory experiments – Sasha’s dog Nacho also got in on the act, who I suggested likely had the best nose in the room. However, they told me about a study that suggested that the power human’s sense of smell could be more akin to a dog’s if our noses were closer to floor level!

 

I discussed with them my hopes that the crossmodal congruency between the smells and sounds that I would be using in my project at the Institute for Art and Olfaction would result in bringing different elements of its scent component to the fore. We also discussed the issue of olfactory adaptation, which is when you stop smelling something after prolonged contact. I’d aimed to keep the sound piece I’d made fairly short, but at around 12 minutes, one would expect this to occur. However, I wondered if sounds could retrigger the perception of smells within the work.

 

It was a great meeting with some exciting common research interests that may well develop into future arts-science collaborations.