Friday 20 July 2012

Sound art at the ICA

Installation view of 'Days' by Bruce Nauman, at ICA. Photo: Stephen White. Courtesy: ICA

Fans of sound art are in for a treat as the ICA in London presents Bruce Nauman’s installation 'Days', as well as a new website, Soundworks, where audiences can access over 100 new pieces of sound art by artists from all over the world.

'Days' (2009) is presented in the main downstairs space at the ICA and, as you might expect from a work based in sound, is pretty minimal on the visuals. Fourteen speakers hang from the ceiling of the space, creating a corridor of sound, which visitors are encouraged to walk through to hear seven voices reciting the days of the week in random order. The work is both totally banal and yet oddly significant: the words spoken feel familiar and run-of-the-mill yet emphasise the importance we place on time as a way of both understanding and navigating our world. All the richness that these days may contain for an individual is eliminated here, and instead we are left to focus on the words themselves and what they signify. The more we listen, the more the individual meaning of the words becomes abstracted and lost.

Nauman’s installation also gives the audience a new way to navigate the space – instead of being drawn visually around the gallery, we are encouraged to think aurally, using our hearing to decide what to focus on next and to dictate how we move and relate to the piece.

'Days' is on at the ICA until September, though the space will be closed from July 23-August 17 due to the Olympics. In the meantime though, make sure you also check out Soundworks, the website accompanying the exhibition, which offers the chance to delve into a much wider range of sound pieces, all newly commissioned. Visit it at I particularly recommend checking out Dan Fox’s 'Bruce, Imperial', to hear a whole new spin on Nauman’s 'Days' piece.

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