[ISEA2011] Paper: Koutsomichalis – Creating Fixed Media Works out of Site-Specific Compositions through the Use of Spatial Responses and Physical Resonances


Site-specific compositions exist solely within a very specific time-space. It is totally inconsistent with the idea of site-specific art in the first place to try to remove or detach such a work out of its accommodating space. On the other hand, fixed media music – at least in theory – is composed in such a way it will sound nice in a variety of different listening set-ups. It is made to be portable in the first place. Would it, however, be possible – and in what way – to commence from a site-specific composition and somehow end with a fixed medium work that would still make sense outside the original context ?

The author answers yes. The composer has to confront his own work as if a found soundscape to be actively interpreted. Using carefully selected equipment and advanced phonographic techniques and by recording the way actual space responds and resonates, he has some control on very crucial qualities of sound. Then, it is perfectly valid to select those recordings that sound interesting, rearrange them and end up with a meaningful fixed media work that would make sense outside of the original context.

This might sound totally inconsistent with the idea of site-specificity in the first place, but the author does not claim that this way the original work is ‘captured’ on some medium or anything like that. What one comes up with is another work – a brand new one – that has to be confronted on its own terms. The two works remain explicitly but not implicitly associated. The site-specificity of the original work is definitely ‘documented’ in a sense (the one derives from the other after all) so the link is never lost, but we still retain all the potential to create a stand-alone piece of music by creatively working on our original material and to deliver a totally different work in terms of scope and aesthetic impact.

In this paper the author describes his practice in detail referring to actual projects he has already undertaken in the past.