The introduction of recorded sounds in a different environment than the origin of the recorded sounds evoke a listening situation previously coined by Musique Concrète-composer Pierre Schaeffer and his definition of acousmatic sounds: '..one hears sound from behind a 'veil' of loudspeakers, the source cause remaining unseen. More generally any sound, whether natural or manipulated, may described as acousmatic if the cause of the sound remains unseen..' (wiki).
The sound work for the atrium of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split uses this occurrence to transform the recognisable to more abstract sonic matter that encourages the audience to perform the act of listening carefully. The mere introduction of sounds with a natural and cultural source to the enclosed environment of the museums courtyard, thus resonating with the idea of the museum as an enclave of contemplation and concentration in the middle of the rush of everyday life, surely conditions the ear of the beholder specifically.
The technique to create a new, spatial context for the found- and edited sounds, supports this strategy of the acousmatic listening situation; an array of loudspeakers, most of them already integrated in the spaces adjacent to the courtyard, extend that spatial quality as integral part of the work.
Such acoustic design, as an intervention, in the semi-public space of the museum, bears a resemblance to systems of control or -discipline: public address systems in factories diffuse muzak to distract the workers from the boring jobs, central music systems in supermarkets and malls stimulate to feel at easy, stay longer and buy more, etc. The conditioning power of designed and diffused sounds is, even on a low level, overwhelming. The research and the production of the soundscape is motivated by these connotations, yet the given situation demands a distance to this at the same time as the artwork doesn't have a commercial plan or a scheme of power. It has the power of seduction maybe, the surprise of unexpected music; at least it addresses the strategies that we became used to, and offers an alternative, the unbound sonic millieu of extended music.
In his work, Paul Devens (Maastricht, 1965) manages various concepts of reality by adapting codes, formalities and identities and embedding these in a different ‘re-invented’ condition. These adaptations often derive from aspects of an institutionalized society. This process of adapting and embedding is sublimated in different manifestations, such as time- and space related installations and minimal act, frequently with a performative quality. The output consists of installations, with sonic and architectural elements, electro-acoustic performances and video screenings. Esthetical features often embody technological phenomena by sound processing through computers, modular- and interactive software and homemade - and circuit bent instruments in combination with elaborated transformations of (sometimes existing) spaces. The installations often study the correlation between architecture and time-based media, such as sound. The way in which spatial and sonic qualities oscillate with cultural pre-constructed conceptions, led to a selection of works.
Paul Devens studied at the ABK and the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. His work has been installed, performed and screened at: Museum Z33, Hasselt (B), Marres, Maastricht, Ctrl_Alt_Del, Istanbul, OCA/ISP, Oslo, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Diapason Gallery, New York, Radio Art Festival, Tallinn, D-0 ARK Biennial of Bosnia - Herzegovina, etc.
Paul Devens lives and works in Maastricht (NL)