©Adam Basanta
Photo: Emily Gan

19th Art Division Excellence Award

The sound of empty space

Media installation

Adam BASANTA [Canada]


The sound of empty space explores relationships between microphones, speakers, and surrounding acoustic environments through controlled, self-generating microphone feedback. The work comprises three installations – The loudest soundVessel and Pirouette. Amplifying the acoustic inactivity between technological inputs and outputs – standins for their corporeal correlates, the ear and mouth – the notion of a causal sound producing object is challenged, and questions are posed as to the status of the amplified. By building flawed technological systems and nullifying their intended potential for communication, the ear is turned towards the “empty space” between components; to the unique configurations of each amplifying assemblage. Through pieces which are equal parts banal, inventive, and absurd, sound is revealed not as a distinct object or autonomous event, but rather as a mutable product of interdependent networks of physical, cultural and economic relations.

Reason for Award

Air is invisible to the naked eye. This explains why we tend to overlook its existence, but it is actually the most important medium in hearing. In The sound of empty space, the artist employs a visual form to examine how rich the sound in an “empty space” can be. Sound passes through the air at a speed of approximately 330 meters per second, and because it is so much slower than the speed of light, we hear things differently depending on the conditions of the space. In other words, our ears are not only hearing sound, they are hearing the space. A number of submissions in this year’s competition made use of sound, but as this work focuses on the space that conveys sound, it urges us to reexamine the nature of sound, and by transcending hearing, the nature of media itself. (FUJIMOTO Yukio)