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[- Light of Falling Cars
By TreborScholz, Section review-a-rama
Posted on Wed Oct 22nd, 2003 at 11:50:37 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
In mid-October, the electronic musician and media artist Steven Vitiello, currently in residency at
Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center presented his work at the Department of Media Study, SUNY at Buffalo.


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Light of Falling Cars

Tony Conrad introduced Steven Vitiello's work, including his newly released CD "Light of Falling Cars."

Coming out of punk rock, Steven Vitiello realized that many structural filmmakers, such as Tony Conrad at the time, had a background in music. As Vitiello collaborates with many larger-than-life-famous video makers he had many opportunities to reflect on the process. He engages creatively in this collaborative process by, for example, delivering many hours of sound to a video maker whom Vitiello then leaves to his/her own devices in the creation of the piece, often resulting in unexpected editing.

A few years ago as part of a residency of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council at the World Trade Center, Vitiello introduced contact microphones to the windows of the tower in the 94th floor to be able to record outside sounds. The presented soundscapes somewhat transported the listener onto the outside of the tower with raging winds, creating the feeling of a gigantic, cracking, and sinking ship.

At the prestigious Cartier Foundation Steven Vitiello exhibited photocells that create sounds... of light. With this exhibit, Vitiello explains, he was interested in the relationship between the exhibited physical object and the sound of light. He installs parts of his piece indoors "importing" outside sounds.

Listening to Vitiello's presentation we look at the projected interface of the Pro-Tools software. While listening to the sounds, the technology of its creation becomes part of the presentation of the sounds.

A recurring theme in Vitiello's work is the tension between inside and outside, the way in which sound relates to space, our perceptions of space, the way the spectator inhabits space. "True art or not," Vitiello says, "I'm interested in dialogue between myself and a place, the listener and the place. The microphone is my instrument."

Responses of visitors who experience his works in exhibitions are similar to those of online audiences who drift through web sites. The visitor enters the room and may be disappointed by the absence of sensational objects or unusual materials and leaves straight away. Others stay for a long time exploring the development of the piece over time, making out in a corner or trying to figure out the technical background of his piece(s).
Interestingly, and also not unlike many web artists, Vitiello hesitates to explain his works too much in an exhibition context. He finds it disappointing when things become too clear, too educational. The user manual remains absent and
visitors keep walking in and out.

Other sound experiments included the recording of sound of a gliding airplane, that of an ant walking over a contact mic in the desert, and the many sounds of frogs and birds.

For their life the sounds in Vitiello's presentation depend on the story behind them. The reception of the sound is dependent on the story and accompanying images, which partner with the sound piece and make the listener/ viewer question the authenticity of the sound. Sounds presented as recordings from a six-day stay in the Amazon may as well be found online. The images of villagers may as well be scanned from the last issue of National Geographic. Vitiello's work questions this tension that is also immanent in the work of Lothar Baumgarten who staged a documentary about an African tribe in a forest outside of Cologne.

Vitiello's favorite sites:

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