With his project “Karst”, composer and spatial sound designer Lugh O’Neill sets out to create a work of art recorded in situ in settings of great cultural and acoustic value
“Karst” by compositor Lugh O’Neill has won one of the S+T+ARTS Repairing the Present residencies organized by the CCCB, Sónar and the UPC. In response to challenge 21, “How can we create a more harmonious city?”, composer and spatial sound designer Lugh O’Neill sets out to create a work of sound art to highlight the value of the cultural narratives of the spaces and habitats where the piece is recorded.
"Karst" is spatial sound composition and acoustic space design artwork which tells a story about cultural engagement with acoustic spaces and habitats. In collaboration with Leisha Thomas and vocal performances by Marie Requa Gailey and Dylan Kerr, Lugh O'Neill creates a composition, presented as video and 3D spatial sound, which builds a narrative around a selection of spaces, selected for their acoustic qualities and cultural significance. The composition, recorded and performed on location — allowing for an artistic interaction with the locations — is then presented within an acoustically designed space and set design.
This approach is inspired by accounts of how various cultural uses of sound, spoken or musical, are a means to analyse and contextualise environments.
The loss of such local and indigenous culture and practices worldwide contribute to ecological amnesia — whilst contemporary culture can see, visually, much more than ever before, the loss of knowledge and context has rendered the landscape flat, and our relationship to it hollow. A re-sensitisation to sonic cultures as a means of inhabiting our urban and natural environments is crucial for regaining ecological awareness. The artist has been investigating the urban sound fabrics and landscapes of Barcelona during his residency and presented an initial prototype of his composition at Sónar 2022.
The jury, formed by the experts group Arnau Horta, sound art curator and researcher; Lluis Nacenta, art and technology curator; Sònia López, new media curator; Antònia Folguera, Sónar+D curator and Eduard Alarcón, UPC telecommunications researcher, has awarded this project because "is original in its approach to sound and has an interesting potential, both conceptually and also in terms of raising awareness about the cultural value and uses of sound, oral or musical traditions. The candidate has a compelling and solid trajectory and vision. His experience in the field of acoustic design can serve to explore the political / social value of a situated listening in original and innovative ways. Next to that, he will be developing his own digital tools".