Seeing sounds: Reviews of ‘Furniture Music’ by Yuri Suzuki

Seeing sounds: Reviews of ‘Furniture Music’ by Yuri Suzuki

The forgotten sounds

[Writen by Maria Jeleńska]

A new exhibition has appeared in Glasgow’s Lighthouse with the beginning of October. Yuri Suzuki is a sound artist and electrician musician, which becomes very apparent in his Yuriland display. The London-based Japanese artist has created an interesting series of objects that makes the audience pay attention to everyday sounds. He seems to improve the mundane noises with his high-tech design. 

Suzuki’s pieces are neither redefining the sounds, nor giving them any particular emotional or sentimental value. This part lies completely in the audience’s hands. What the artist has done is break the sounds into smaller pieces, by taking them out of context and questioning how one perceives them. The display of music notes from the recognisable jingle of a Skype call or of the opening of the Windows system presents these sounds as music even if the listener has never made an effort to actively listen to them. What does it mean for the observers? A Skype ringtone may remind one of a long-distance relative with whom one talks usually only via Skype. The interpretations are exclusively up to the individual, but what Suzuki does is highlight that those mundane unnoticeable sounds can indeed have a meaning. An installation assembling wave sounds controlled by live data from beaches across the world, including Brighton, Los Angeles or Mexico, is technologically impressive. Why would he choose different places across the world to display? Don’t all waves have the same sound? He does not answer but the viewer can. If you lived your entire life by the sea you might say that no waves sound the same as in one’s hometown. Another piece, an acoustic table, brings awareness to the daily routine. It is designed to reinforce every sound one makes on or around it – setting the table, pouring the morning coffee or talking with friends and family. It increases the value of everyday little things, technically and metaphorically. On the other hand, the white noise machine was designed to create silence. It provokes the audience to treat the lack of noise as a particular sound. It invites the discussion about the meaning of silence. 

These works are an interesting play with sound and technology. The exhibition is not showing the artist’s personal attachment to the sound whatsoever. Suzuki acts as a messenger here, showing the audience the unnoticeable, forgotten sounds and stimulating them to (finally) pay attention. How the viewer interprets the mundane music, seems to be only a matter of imagination, memories and personal connotations.

Melodies beneath the mundane

[Written by Euan Goodwin]

In Furniture Music, Yuri Suzuki takes my ordinarily nightmarish world of disruptive noises as an autistic individual and transforms them into an encompassing orchestra of unobtrusive tones and melodies that for many would provoke the same sensations as ASMR. The first room I entered had me deceived. I watched how the simplicity of rainsticks being turned by a motor could recreate the sound of crashing waves. With my eyes closed I knew I was no longer in Glasgow, as the rainsticks achieved a quality of sound that made it almost impossible to believe they were what they were. However, it wasn’t the sound that had deceived me. It was that I thought this piece was something simple, because soon I discovered that Suzuki had connected his turning rainsticks to sensors monitoring waves on a beach, so that each wave was perfectly replicated by the data given to it, giving it that transformative power.

In the next room, his music box mobile phone and his musical domestic devices were absent, leaving me to explore his acoustic chamber table. Suzuki’s belief is that subtle noises allow for more comfortable conversations, and the acoustic chamber table had been made to amplify these noises in order to allow for better conversations. For many, this device may be a useful tool for dinner parties or romantic dates, however I often find myself trapped by such subtle noises, unable to focus on anything but them. If I were to use this table with my friends, I would be more focused on the sounds of the table than what they are saying.

Suzuki’s work follows a fascinating understanding of the mundane, and his ability to remodel noise into music has allowed for a better appreciation of what we have, as he shows his audience that music is everywhere. I believe that his work could have the potential to inspire the creation of more autism friendly devices in the home using his transforming methods to turn disruptive sounds into something more pleasant.

You can visit Furniture Music at Glasgow’s The Lighthouse, Gallery One, running October 5th 2019 – January 6th 2020. Entry is free.

[Image Credits: Neil Jarvie]

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