[ISEA97] Artist Statement: Norie Neumark — A Shock in the Ear

Artist Statement

Shock in the Ear is an experimental art CDROM which explores shock — from culture shock to electric shock and reverberating beyond into shock aesthetics. The project of the work is to engage the user sensually with shock as an experience of deep and abrupt physical and psychic change. It aims to shift perceptions as the user explores the moment after the shock event — a moment of dislocated time/space and altered perceptions and senses.

A sound-centred CDROM, Shock in the Ear is composed through interactive stories, performances, music and sounds, as well as screens. The invitation for the user is to an intense and poetic experience, through their senses, especially hearing. The work challenges the usual articulation of art and interactivity, with its hierarchy of vision over sound, and solely vision-centred interactivity. The work thus formally expresses the ‘shocking’ concept that sound is the medium most appropriate to interactivity, as a new and engaging artistic form, because sound goes beyond the interface, into time, into the body, and into the imagination and emotions.

Shock in the Ear avoids the slick and controlled look and sound of cyberspace, and explores instead the potential of CDROM for poetic movement, understandings, emotions, and sensations. The sorts of movements and perceptions provoked in the piece are different, disorienting, disrupting to ‘traditional’ CDROM aesthetics and kinaesthetics. The interactivity is slow, contemplative and sensually engaging — a refusal of the usual rapid clicking.

Shock in the Ear engages with the question of how to retrain the ear and the hand in the computer era in the way that cinema retrained the eye in early modernist era — to answer the need thrown up by computer culture to undo the already moribund habits of hand/eye/ear control. The work also addresses the common critique that new media art is non-corporeal. Its strategy is not to represent the body but rather to remember and evoke it — not to display wounds but rather to etch along their kinaesthetic, physical, memory pathways.

The artists:

  1. Norie Neumark, concept, direction and sound
  2. Maria Miranda, painting and visual design
  3. Richard Vella, music
  4. Greg White, technical producer and programmer
  5. David Bartolo, interface consultant

[Source: contactzones.cit.cornell.edu]

  • Norie Neumark (Australia) is a sound/radio artist, who also works with multimedia and installation. Her recent sound pieces have been commissioned and broadcast by the Listening Room, ABC Classic FM, and include Into the Interface (1994), Shock (1995), and Separation Anxiety: not the truth about alchemy (1996). All three were rebroadcast in the U.S. by New American Radio and the Performing Arts. Her current work for multimedia grew out of Shock, and was funded as an installation by the New Media Arts Fund of the Australia Council and as a stand-alone CDROM (prototype) by the AFC. Shock in the Ear was installed at Artspace in Sydney in April-May, I997. The AFC is currently funding the comple­tion of the stand-alone CDROM. The CDROM has been exhibited at techne, Perth Festiva1, 1997; Matinaze,1997; transmedia (Berlin) I997 and has been invited to Altered States, Interact, Melbourne. Norie Neumark also works as a lecturer in Sound and Cultural Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has given papers about sound and multimedia at Sound Culture 96, and at ISEAs. Her pub­lished works include articles in Essays in Sound 2, Leonardo, and Media Information Australia. She received a PhD. in his­tory / politics from the University of Sydney in 1976.

Shock in the Ear grew out of the sound/radio work, Shock, commissioned by ABC Audio Arts, and was funded as an installation by the New Media Arts Fund of the Australia Council for the Arts and as a stand alone CDROM by the Australian Film Commission. The assistance of the University of Technology Sydney is also gratefully acknowledged.