“Listen,” mimes composer and sound artist R. Muray Schafer, index finger to lips, shushing us.
Earlid is an invitation. It’s an online gallery of evolving exhibits of sound art. It’s like a museum.
In visual culture there’s a choice to turn away or, conversely, to open eyes widely towards mediated beauty. But physically, we have no ear lids. We hear everything. Our ears are not always open to recognize the potential for metaphor and meaning. Sounds are stories, full of doubt. They shift perceptual experiences; they undo media structures. They ooze like honey, or rain down, vertically, all around us.
Contemporary practitioners of sound art have spider-webbed a century’s legacy to audiences seeking a visual and perceptual experience. Media artistry today finds its way towards emergent radio spaces, sound-texts, re-mixes, gallery installations, noise tracks, narrowcasting, internet operas, live performance. Often all this is transmitted to personalized portable devices (gazed at), or the fairly sedentary laptop (distraction-laden) or eventually nests within a virtual archive (stumbled upon). Sound risks being sublimated to other artistic disciplines; but practitioners are invigorating ever-deeper relationships to what the ears do best. The virtual museum is a place to dwell in such aurality. Earlid’s exhibits are mapped around a theme, featuring artists whose work speaks to this assemblage or convergence of ideas, of sounds, of presentation spaces.
Why curate sound online? It was one of those Modernists back in the early 20th century who coined the moniker, “Cinema for the Ear.” To further this culture, Earlid seems to be a museum for the ear. Think upon it as a sonic version of the salon or atelier. The virtual medium is a space that enables the visitor to follow a cartography, though never ‘be’ anywhere. A kind of private listening experience takes place—and you “tell” someone about it, and they tell another, excitedly. It’s littered with the anticipation of its visitors’ infectious need to search rather than the necessity to land someplace. Linger and perhaps you’ll discover. Earlid’s thematic divisions force a structure amidst the ephemeral quality of sound itself in a space that is nowhere.
The museum is always open. Look for exhibits every couple of months with occasional recorded conversations between artists. Sometimes there’s a kind of wishful listening—here’s a sound, is there a practitioner focused on such sonic curiosity? Once annually, Earlid opens to submissions.
Earlid then is an enfoldment of sounds upon stories upon bodies and imagined gallery rooms. And ears, naturally.
Joan Schuman, Earlid Director