Room40’s Lawrence English invades LA with new city-wide sound installation Seirá

Room40's Lawrence English invades LA with new city-wide sound installation Seirá

Just when you thought it was safe to wander the streets of downtown Los Angeles alone at dusk without being aurally assaulted by the ominous drones of a dramatically re-purposed civil defense system: Room40 label boss and ever-restless sonic adventurer Lawrence English has announced that he’s about to unleash an enormous new sound installation upon the city of angels this week.

Seirá — Greek for “cord” or “rope” — is “a citywide sound work that utilizes the topography of the decommissioned Los Angeles Civil Defense System as a means of considering sound’s evolving role in the public sphere.” It debuts THIS FRIDAY (November 2) as part of the 2018 AxS Festival: City as Wunderkammer sponsored by Fulcrum Arts, and it also represents English’s first major sonic work to debut in the United States.

According to English:

[The Los Angeles Civil Defense System] included more than 200 civil defense sirens, which when sounded formed an integrated early warning system for Los Angeles. Initially installed following the entry of North America into the Second World War, the system was massively expanded as Cold War tensions escalated in the 1950s. The system remained a central psychogeographical feature of the city for some three decades, and last sounded in January 1985.

…The work is concerned with the shifting role sound plays in contemporary urban settings. Seirá meditates on the siren as a means of critiquing sound’s changing social and political applications and interrogates the increasing weaponisation of sound through devices such as the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Explicitly, the siren tone developed for the LRAD has been designed to saturate human audition with frequencies to which ears are particularly sensitive and which therefore become distinctly uncomfortable when delivered at high sound pressure levels. LRAD’s increased use by law enforcement, private security, and other groups as a means of exerting control and power has significantly shifted understandings of how the siren functions; its role has shifted from that of civil defense to civil assault.

Seirá consequentially questions sound’s interaction with the body and the power relations that exist in terms of who permits communication, who can listen, and how the relation between these parties might be understood and shaped as we listen into the future.

Yup: holy shit.

The first sounding of Seirá goes down Friday at precisely 5:59 p.m. PST “at the corner of Spring and Temple streets” — and precisely one minute earlier on each of nine subsequent days. Head here for complete info and check out the full 10-day schedule, as well as a short teaser video, down below:

Seirá soundings (city-wide across Los Angeles - daily at dusk):

11.02.18 - 5:59 p.m
11.03.18 - 5:58 p.m
11.04.18 - 4:57 p.m
11.05.18 - 4:56 p.m
11.06.18 - 4:55 p.m
11.07.18 - 4:54 p.m
11.08.18 - 4:54 p.m
11.09.18 - 4:53 p.m
11.10.18 - 4:52 p.m
11.11.18 - 4:51 p.m

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