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The Week Ahead

Long Beach's artful earful

September 17, 2007|Lynne Heffley

Bicycle bells, Nerf balls and random compliments. What do they have in common?

The answer is "SoundWalk 2007," a free walking tour of an eclectic series of sound-art installations in Long Beach's East Village Arts District, taking place Saturday.

From 5 to 10 p.m., strollers along Broadway, Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Boulevard and Elm Street will happen upon environmental, aural, visual and performance works by more than 60 sound artists -- in galleries, on roofs and in gardens, lobbies and stores.

Toss painted Nerf balls at artist Thomas Anthony McDermott, hit the target and hear a "Reward Sound." Listen to sculptor, engineer and musician Tristan Shone's sleek and powerful "Drone Machines." Watch the low-tech Bicycle Bell Ensemble play off notions of traffic-based society, or receive an unearned compliment from a stranger, a commentary on the prevalence of meaningless communication.

"We're used to our other senses being challenged; sound art challenges the ears," said Marco Schindelmann of FLOOD, the Long Beach-based artists collective that presents the annual "SoundWalk," now in its fourth year.

"Since it doesn't take place in a museum setting, there is a democratization of listening," he said. "Visitors -- 'auditors' -- stumble on these works and they're taken by surprise: The way that they perceive sound has suddenly been altered."

Schindelmann and fellow FLOOD members Frauke Von der Horst, Kamran Assadi, Shelley Rugg-Thorp and Shea M. Gauer curated the exhibition. It places works in visual contexts as varied as the kitchen of the historic Lafayette Building and a flower-shop entrance nook. Maps can be found at Koo's art gallery, the event's home base.

FLOOD also plans to have small "listening and viewing rooms" inside parked U-Haul trailers and throughout the area, Schindelmann said.

Public response keeps the event coming back; it has strong city and commercial support, surprising for this "marginalized art form," Schindelmann said.

"It's easy for municipal agencies to sort of flow with the mainstream," he said. In this instance, "they're supporting artists who are swimming upstream."


-- Lynne Heffley

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