Scalar Fields by Yann Novak

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Yann Novak | Scalar Fields
Room40 (DL)

Scalar Fields, available on March 8th is the latest from LA-based sound artist Yann Novak which consists of two 20-minute long pieces begun in 2013 as an exploration of extrapolating video output at its barest bones. As he explains: “I wanted to explore slowing down video to the point that change was imperceptible…My intent was to create a time-based piece that could be experienced more as a painting or sculpture could: a static object that gains meaning though prolonged observation.” The description has the air of that like a voyeur in slo-mo limbo, but what does it all sound like? After developing a myriad of sound situations for installation, performance and other interdisciplinary modalities since 2005, Novak has taken a slightly new tact from that of his glistening gem (for which I think I wore out my digital copy), The Breeze Blowing Over Us (Infrequency, 2009) as well as the sonic, granular minimalism of Ornamentation (Touch, 2016). It’s all in the midst of shifting gradients. Let’s dive in.

Starting with Scalar Field (yellow, blue, yellow), a plume of drone opens slowly on all channels, it’s broad reach delivering an acoustic bouquet that lingers. If the source is actually video itself, the effect is most certainly that of whitenoise static, the kind that renders its audience into a half trance/half horripilated state of mind. It comes with this giant waft of static electricity, a sensitive buzz, that with any volume begins to induce a mental mirage. The entire piece is like a frenetic singular line, reverberating and fizzing to the end.

On Scalar Field (orange, pink, orange) the mode seems to have dropped a chord. The built atmosphere is slightly more meditative here, albeit not too far from the same cadences as heard on the previous piece. These are the most gradual and understated of variations in tone. But unlike Scalar Field (yellow, blue, yellow) which courts a bit of tension, this here is more a release of such, unto itself, notwithstanding the implied feeling like a ‘drop in cabin pressure’ — likely coming from the downward spiral of its resonant velocity. A sensitive piece that is delivered with a great deal of airiness and breadth – just set free.

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