Yvan Alvarez
Visual Study About Noise, 2014
Inkjet print, pencil on tracing paper
Dimensions variable

On the 17th March 1969, Douglas Huebler presented his work Duration Piece n°5, New York in which he followed “an individually distinguishable bird call”. The ten photographs comprised in this procedure/protocol are conditioned both by the time lapses chosen by the artist and the bird call.

In Visual Study about Noise, I wander in different places with a sonometre, a ten-shot camera and a tripod. Whenever the sound exceeds the limit of 70 decibels, the sonometre signals the time and place where I have to take a picture. The place, defined by the sound, is transcribed on a map, which, in the end, constitutes a group of then points that I later copy on a tracing paper.

After connecting the ten points together, it forms an abstract and minimalist image, shaped, in a way, by the sound itself. Therefore, the pictures constitute not only a documentation of the protocol, but also an absurd account of sound. From an alternative perspective, these images convey an unusual and worrying atmosphere. These places, mostly empty, become even more disturbing when the viewer cannot identify what caused the sound to exceed 70 decibels.

Through the wandering interspersed by sound peaks, I cannot rely on my visual experience as any photographer would do. It’s an instrument, the sonometre, that functions as an intermediary and replaces the sensory experience. By contrast with Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive visual moments, my photographs represent, to some extent, a decisive sound moment, sometimes missed or invisible, which is expressed in photography through images of a worrying banality.