The project “frequencies (sound quanta)” represents the audio version of “frequencies (light quanta)”, a sound and light installation commissioned by LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, Spain (August – October 2014).
Taking the quantum – the smallest measurable value of energy – as its conceptual basis, the project metaphorically creates relationships between basic quantum physics principles applied to the audiovisual creative process: particles, probabilities, wave/particle duality and discontinuity. Structured around these notions, the composition stems from 100 sound fragments that develop themselves aleatorically, generating an ever expanding yet disruptive form.
The release takes the form of a limited edition of 100 transparent acrylic panels. Each one is laser cut with a unique design, replicating the 100 panels of the physical installation. People who order the release will therefore receive a totally unique art object. The release comes with a card + download code, 100 sound files and a software (programmed by Ennio Mazzon) allowing to randomly play the soundfiles.
Nicolas Bernier creates audiovisual installations, performances, musique concrète, live electronics improvisations and video art while also working with dance, theatre, moving images and within interdisciplinary contexts.
In the midst of this eclecticism, his artistic concerns remain constant: the balance between the cerebral and the sensual, and between tangible materials and digital means.
Awardee of the prestigious Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2013 (Austria), his work have been presented in major events and venues like SONAR (Spain), Mutek (Canada), DotMov Festival (Japan), ZKM (Germany), Transmediale (Germany) and LABoral (Spain) to name a few. His sound compositions are widely published on electronic music labels: Crónica (Portugal), LINE (US), leerraum (Switzerland), Entr’acte (UK) and empreintes DIGITALes (Québec).
He holds a PhD in sonic arts from the University of Huddersfield (UK). He his a member of Perte de signal, CIRMMT and Hexagram media arts research and development centres based in Montreal. He his teaching in the Digital Music program of the Université de Montréal.
1. frequencies (sound quanta) is the sound of environments in flux. By taking a look at the absolutely microscopic Nicolas Bernier is able to discover entirely new lands. The rush of these sounds is absolutely startling at times. Joy comes from these literal split-second shards of sound. Racing through with incredible speed the pieces are impossible at times to fully comprehend. Only a handful of them last beyond the ten second mark. For these select few longer pieces Nicolas Bernier either goes for a static approach letting the tones remain hanging in the air or explores particularly darkened aural hues.
Several pieces burn through their run times before one of the first longer-form pieces takes shape. Curiosity, it immediately offers a sense of humanity with a gently played guitar woven amongst the digital debris that threaten to completely overtake the proceedings. Eventually the noise returns as Nicolas Bernier’s next few tracks overwhelm with their exploding shrapnel sounds. Ominous and creepy defines the next long track whose eerie drones suggest a gigantic empty space. Downright lush with the interplay of sounds the piece appears to simply churn about. Taking things into an unsettling atmosphere with infinity, as the infinite is the only thing that truly defines the pieces. Flexible in tone is the pulsing rhythm that appears towards the end of the album reminiscent of Alva Noto’s austere digital works.
Absolutely overwhelming and shining with digital gloss, Nicolas Bernier’s frequencies (sound quanta) is an exploration of sonic cartography.
2. Offering the sound of an environment constantly in flux is the chaotic world of Nicolas Bernier’s “frequencies (sound quanta)”. Many of these piece pass by in a flash as literal digital shards of sound elegantly sculpted. By breaking the collection up into such small fragments the joy of shuffle mode can be explored in full. Throughout the collection there are longer, fully-fleshed out pieces that reveal a true talent for form. Rhythms, melodies, these do appear over the course of the album with about the same level of frequency as the more abstracted approaches.
An early example of one of Nicolas Bernier’s more in depth pieces is the guitar-led and tender sound of “006”. This piece has a rather lovely sound to it standing in stark contrast to some of the smaller bursts of noise, static, and assorted fragmented grooves. Eerie with its hovering drone is the rather graceful “22”. With this piece Nicolas Bernier sets a dark and mysterious mood as the song’s loose structure works to its benefit, as if encompassing all that came before it. Tapping into a Gert-Jan Prins style is the static-riding grooves of “23”. Offering a grand buildup is the near-chaos of “41”. All engrossing in nature is the delicate sweeps of “96” which helps to nicely cover everything that came before it.
Truly on the cutting edge of digital experimentation Nicolas Bernier’s “frequencies (sound quanta)” is an immersive experience.