MUTED SITUATION

 

For the Biennale of Sydney 2018 Thomas Jung worked together with composer and artist Samson Young realising the latest iteration of an ongoing project, Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th.

 

Samson Young has produced a new video and 12-channel sound installation, as part of his ongoing series ‘Muted Situations’, 2014 – ongoing. The series foregrounds the masked or unobserved moments that take place in our everyday experience. By consciously ‘muting’ the sonic foreground, the less-commonly noticed layers are revealed. Young has written a series of short instructional texts describing hypothetical situations, a few of which he has already staged, to draw attention to unnoticed sounds. Numbered from one to twenty-two, this expanding set of scenarios range from ‘Muted Dance Party’, ‘Muted Non-Violent Protest’ to ‘Muted Taoist Funeral Ritual of Hell-breaking’.

In the latest iteration of the ongoing project, Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th, 2018, Samson Young worked together with Conductor Thomas Jung and invited the Flora Sinfonie Orchester in Cologne to perform Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony in its entirety. The orchestra, however, has been asked to ‘mute’ the musical notes, suppressing the pitched foreground layer of the composition, and bringing forth the sounds produced by physical actions in a performance – the musicians’ focused breath, the turning of pages, or the clicking noises of the instruments’ keys.

On the process of muting, Young writes: »... muting is not the same as doing nothing. Rather, the act of muting is an intensely focused re-imagination and re-construction of the auditory. It involves the conscious suppression of dominant voices, as a way to uncover the unheard and the marginalised, or to make apparent certain assumptions about hearing and sounding.« The process has the effect of disrupting the viewer’s expectations; when the piercing shriek of a violin fails to come forth, it feels anticlimactic, ridiculous even. Young’s situational experiments reveal what is suppressed, enabling us to become aware of another layer of reality underneath the noise.

Prix Ars Electronica — Award of Distinction

 

On May 22nd 2019, Samson Young's Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th  has been awarded a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction, under the digital musics and sound art category. 

 

The Guardian — Review

The Work was/is shown at

  • Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre (March - April 2019)

  • Shanghai Biennale (November 2018 - March 2019)

  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (March 2018 - July 2018)