The Sound of Seeing is a series of three film screenings which present an alternative history of Aotearoa experimental music, seen through the prism of artists film and video 1973-2020.
Presented by CIRCUIT and Epic Sweep Records in association with Pyramid Club, The Sound of Seeing offers a survey of Aotearoa experimental music informed not only by radical sonic aesthetics, but also contemporary critical practices.
The Sound of Seeing was programmed not by watching the films, but by extracting the audio, and sequencing the screening like a record. The first two shows have been imagined as a double vinyl album. There nights feature existing films and each features a live soundtrack performed by Ludus and Erika Grant respectively. The third night on Friday 13 October - The Sound of Seeing Live! - features new live audio and visual commissions.
Detail, Christopher Ulutupu, Manaonao (2011)
Night one begins with a work by Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka (Ngā Puhi, Ngati Pakau and Waitaha) entitled Come for a walk (2020). Shot during Covid 19 lockdown, the video features a dawn karakia performed by the artist's mother, who asks Tāwhirimatea and Tangaroa to carry her prayer “to help those in need”.
Several films perfectly calibrate sonic composition to the image. Fever Hospital's soundtrack to Lissa Mitchell's Bowl Me Over (1995) makes for one of the most raucous and evocative portraits of the South Island ever set to film. David Downes' Noise: Theme and Variations (1997), is explicitly an experiment in parity between image and sound. Torben Tilly's soundtrack for Gavin Hipkins' City of Tomorrow (2017) is psychologically nuanced to every shift in the artist’s images of a planned future city.
The Parasitic Fantasy Band, Blue Tide Black Water (2008)
Other works use sound to bring historical materials into the present. Janet Lilo's Untitled (2019) features two recordings, one of her son playing the piano, and another of his school performing a Haka originally written in 1915 by Waimarama Puhara. Eli Jenkins' Prayer (2016) features an audio recording of the New Zealand Male Choir made by the artist's Nana, Nancy Evans. Recorded in 2010 on a handheld Sony Cassette recorder, Nancy's recording documents not only a performance by the artist’s grandfather, but also the incredible acoustic presence of the Queen's St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle. Intended simply as a document of the artists grandfather in performance, Winter reworked the audio into a performative video, in which the artist plays on a form of ‘drag’, both visually and temporally, embodying the existence and continuity of queerness through time and space.
Other works, such as Christopher Ulutupu’s ‘uncompleted’ music video Manaonao (2011) while not exploring the sonic as material, nevertheless have used sound as basis from which consider questions about the production process and working with a group.
Eight new live and recorded soundtracks have been commissioned by Pyramid Club and Circuit for The Sound of Seeing programme. Night one features Wellington electronic artist Ludus (aka. Emma Bernard). Night two features a trio of instrumentalists: Erika Grant, Isaac Smith and Rosie Langabeer.
Night Three - The Sound of Seeing Live! features new live soundtracks from Jamie Berry, Chrissie Butler, Simon Cuming, Thomas Carroll, plus films from popular productions, Bruce Barber, Mike Heynes and a new audio/visual work by Jamie Berry.
Chrissie Butler is one half of Wellington anarcho-punk ensemble Mr Sterile Assembly. She has toured extensively across South East Asia and Eastern Europe as part of the Assembly, and also as a soloist and band leader for Ditzy Squall Lunchbox.
Thomas Carroll (Ngati Maru, Hauraki) hand carves Māori wind instruments - Taonga Pūoro - from found materials and native timbers using traditional and modern methods of construction. He is currently based in Whanganui.
Simon Cuming is a visual artist who also investigates sound. Building homemade and "circuit-bent" sound generators and modulators, Cuming has performed these locally and internationally, notably in 2010 at Artspace in Sydney with Sean Kerr at the Sydney Biennale as part of the Superdeluxe programme.
Jamie Berry (Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi) is an artist whose work explores indigenous histories while reflecting on identity and whakapapa. Jamie creates narratives through DNA based soundscapes, moving image, and installation. Jamie is also a founding and active member of 7558 Collective. For The Sound of Seeing Live! she will produce a new audio and visual work.
The Sound of Seeing is not only a new way of imagining the history of experimental music in Aotearoa, it is also the first time some of these films have been shown in public for many years. Our thanks to the many artists who have contributed to this project. Thanks also to our major sponsor, Wellington City Council, and Creative NZ for supporting Pyramid Club’s commissions for this project.
Tickets for each night, or a pass for the full series can be purchased from www.undertheradar.co.nz. Presales are $12 per night or $25 for a season pass.
The Sound of Seeing: Night One - Sides 1 & 2 (30 October)
Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka, Jane Mihingarangi Ruka
Lissa Mitchell, Fever Hospital
Terry Urbahn, Andrew Thomas
Gavin Hipkins, Torben Tilly
Christopher Ulutupu, Josephine Chadwick, Katie Uilaau Chadwick, Isitolo Alesana
Bryce Galloway, Wendyhouse
Richard Von Sturmer, Charlotte Wrightson, Derek Ward, Jed Town
Aliyah Winter, Ieuan Evans with the New Zealand Male Choir
Jill Kennedy, Emma Bernard (Ludus)
The Sound of Seeing: Night Two - Sides 3 & 4 (6 November)
Nova Paul, Bic Runga
Nathan Thompson, Expansion Bay and Del
Popular Productions, Tone Cornaga, George Hubbard
Sean Grattan, James Duncan, Mireya Lucio
Kim Pieters, William Henry Meung
Janet Lilo, Harry Lilo, Owairaka District School, Waimarama Puhara
The Parasitic Fantasy Band
Erika Grant, Clinton Watkins, Seung Yul Oh
Laura Duffy, Erika Grant, Isaac Smith, Rosie Langabeer