Sound as material, ALMA MATER

Sound as material, ALMA MATER

Until August 29th 2015, the Cattedrale-building at La Fabbrica del Vapore (The Steam Factory) in Milan will host a unique art event: ALMA MATER the spectacular new multimedia creation by Yuval Avital, in dialogue with an original version of “IL TERZO PARADISO” by Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Originally from Jerusalem, Israel, multi-faceted artist Yuval Avital is undoubtedly influenced by his heritage. Using the complex sounds from daily life he found a harmony, dissonance and most importantly, what he calls a “sonic fingerprint” which brings the individual to the present. He describes this concept as using sound as material. It becomes a physical substance that touches you. In the case of ALMA MATER, the pluralism of voices that comes together to co-exist.

“The foundation is the sound; I have never done anything that is absent of sound. Sound is the most powerful instrument from all of the arts. I start thinking both visually and musically” - Avital said. 

The meaning behind ALMA MATER derives from the Roman name for the goddess for mother earth. In Latin, it translates to “nourishing mother” and is ultimately the motif for the archetype of the great mother. ALMA MATER is an allegorical scene composed from many distinct elements, which recreate the concept, this autonomous mother. One could posit that it’s a sort of cathedral; exuding the concepts of comfort, yet tension. The viewer can sit, or can lie down to view the exhibit; it’s an open canvas.

According to Avital, ALMA MATER “carries the voices of cultures”. The 1200 sq. meter allegorical scene in between installation and performance on one side the perceiver has the artistic experience and on the other the cultural enrichment. Noises used from Iceland, North America and a plethora of others all portray unique realities. There is a palpable immense fresco of voices, which seem to be interconnected.

Moreover, technology is an immense element of the installation. Using 140 loud speakers created from materials such as marble, cement and stone, which are simultaneous with visual projections and lights. Almost like a machine working together. Additionally, 7 km of cables were used inside yet, it’s not a labyrinth but instead a very open space. There are many ways to perceive and experience the exhibit.

On his collaboration with Michelangelo Pistoletto Avital says he is “honored”. The Third Paradise is an artistic symbol rather than a work of art. This symbolism is represented by the motif of the grandmother, which along with nature, are at the core of the universe. Each material that The Third Paradise has been created from has a different element. The agricultural soil and the earth, it’s a connector between the past and the future, between men and nature, and men and women. There is also symmetry to the body, to mothers, grandmothers. The Third Paradise attempts to portray how we are all interconnected.

Alma Mater is undoubtedly quite political. A figurative kind of political, not direct, about the union, and in this sense, the merging of voices of the grandmothers to create wholeness. They are full of energy and intensity, which is one of a kind. Such is the significance of the event not only for art but also for the symbolism of Milan.

Which sounds do you see as material in your daily life? Post on Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtag #Expoincittà and tell us!

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