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Firework Edition CD FER1039
C.M. VON HAUSSWOLFF
A LECTURE ON DISTURBANCES IN ARCHITECTURE
Firework Edition CD FER1036
by Jim Haynes
originally published in The Wire, 226: December 2002
Depending on whom you ask, the late architect Buckminster Fuller is regarded alternately as a genius metadesigner of a mathematically harmonious utopia or a crackpot smearing the edges between science fiction and Humanist progressivism. Through an ongoing series of collaborations and individual works, the Swedish conceptual sound sculptors C.M. von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren have actively sought a similarly amorphous territory between brilliance and absurdity. Von Hausswolff's A Lecture On Disturbances In Architecture, which won honorable mention at the 2002 Ars Electronica, directly spells out his connectivity with Fuller, not only with an introduction from the iconoclastic architect, but also in sharing a holistic notion of how sound might function within architectural space. Intended to open dialogue with architects and engineers, von Hausswolff offers a 'lecture' through a series of the modern-day mantras of domesticity: electrical drones from refrigerators, the hushed din from heating ducts, and unspecified environmental disturbances. Aside from Fuller's opening remarks, this lecture is a non-verbal presentation which generalizes architectural sound within seven situations: temperature, uselessness, ultrasonic and subsonic frequencies, vertical and horizontal relations, repetition, standards, and materials. While this small cross section of architectural sound is unceremoniously austere, von Hausswolff contextualizes this album as a transition from claustrophobic, cluttered spaces (most notably within the irradiated squeal used to compose "The Small Unnoticed Room") to expansive and potentially transcendent spaces (found in the ephemeral chorus of synthetic tones on "Illustration of High Ceilings Inhabited by Angels" and the massive reverberations on "When Thick Walls Seem Vanished"). Von Hausswolff's lecture offers no concrete conclusions to the improvement of architectural sound, but cautiously reflects on the physical impact of sound (both benevolent and toxic) upon us and our environment.
Leif Elggren's Extraction shares Von Hausswolff's predilection for composition through electric-field disruptions, but applies a radically different conceptual agenda of architectural reconfiguration than Von Hausswolff's civic minded inquiries. Within the liner-notes on the back the CD, Elggren implores his listeners to use this album as a tool with the following instructions: "load this CD in your CD player, confirm that sound is coming out through the speakers, and then leave the room. When you come back everything will be totally changed." If you choose to pay no attention to Elggren's instructions, Extraction emerges as a sea of electricity, which pulses and flutters into a sublime chorale of noxious Minimalism. Elggren further compounds matters in stating that the source material was not in fact electrical currents, but rather was, "recorded in my biological mother's uterus with my not yet developed teeth used as a fundamental and simple recording device a few days before my birth." Such disparate signifiers and references are far from being random thoughts aimlessly plucked from the ether or from being fanciful delusions of grandeur; Elggren celebrates an inversion of reality in which the improbabilities of dreams have become the laws of nature.