Sound artist Yuri Suzuki’s participatory artwork as part of Margate NOW gets extended after successful run on Turner Contemporary’s terrace.

Posted in – Margate NOWNews

Japanese sound artist, electronic musician and Margate resident Yuri Suzuki has had his participatory artwork, The Welcome Chorus, extended for several more weeks following a successful run on Turner Contemporary’s terrace.

Turner Contemporary, in collaboration with Kent Libraries, commissioned Suzuki to make the participatory artwork as part of Margate NOW (28 September 2019 – 12 January 2020), a Margate-wide festival involving more than 500 artists. Suzuki’s interactive sculpture was due to be taken down on 12 January 2020, to coincide with the world famous Turner Prize 2019 exhibition ending at the gallery. But the installation has now been extended until 23 February 2020 so that visitors can enjoy the eye-catching and thought provoking piece for longer.

Artist Yuri Suzuki says: “This project has been about the endless process of musical composition – our aim has been to create an anthem of sorts for Margate and Kent. The AI embedded within the sculpture has been learning and absorbing how people think about the area – every 2 minutes it generates a brand new piece of music. Since the piece was installed, the algorithm has greatly expanded both its vocabulary and with it its knowledge about Kent. I am truly excited to see how the next few weeks will continue to influence the songs generated.”

The Welcome Chorus brings together sound, sculpture and artificial intelligence (AI) in the interactive outdoor commission, installed on Turner Contemporary’s terrace. Twelve horns, each representing a different district of Kent, continually sing lyrics which are generated live by a uniquely trained, site-specific piece of AI software. Symbolically and aesthetically, these sculptural forms reference the origin of the word ‘Kent’; thought to derive from the word ‘kanto’, meaning horn or hook.

Through an inclusive, democratic process of workshops and gatherings at Kent Libraries, people from all over the county have been contributing lyrics reflecting on their Kentish experience to the AI data bank. Generated lyrics and sound bites, on the history of Kent, its landscapes and estuaries, changes to industry and services, the relationship between urban and rural areas and perceptions around journeying, migration and movement, have all been submitted. The colours of each horn have been selected by library staff to reflect different areas in Kent.

Onsite, visitors are able to speak or sing into a unique ‘conductor’ sculpture. Their words will then be heard in the immediate soundscape and will be added and archived in an ongoing machine learning. The AI has continued to evolve throughout the course of the exhibition, resulting in a novel and unexpected set of vocal exchanges.

Yuri Suzuki’s practice explores the realms and possibilities of sound through designed pieces that examine the relationship between people and their environments – questioning how both music and sound evolve to create unique personal experiences.  Suzuki has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including at Tate Britain, V&A, the Barbican and MoMA New York. 2019 has been a defining year for the artist; in early September, Suzuki opened a solo exhibition at the Design Museum in London. Sound in Mind will run until 2 February 2020 and features a wide variety of work from his career, from large scale installations to experimental product design. To close Sound in Mind, there will be an event with Yamaha on 1 February 2020 at the Design Museum to launch their new collaborative project Industrial Instruments. The event will feature professional percussionists playing bespoke instruments made out of household materials.

The Turner Prize 2019 exhibition at Turner Contemporary became the second most visited Turner Prize exhibition of all time when it ended on 12 January 2020, after attracting 141,550 visitors. It was the gallery’s most popular Autumn exhibition ever.

The gallery is currently closed for exhibition changeover and maintenance and will re-open on 4 February 2020. Turner Contemporary’s next exhibition, We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South, opens on Friday 7 February 2020 and will run until 3 May 2020. Yuri Suzuki’s installation, The Welcome Chorus, can be visited at any time on Turner Contemporary’s outside terrace during its remaining run, including when the gallery is shut.

The Welcome Chorus is supported by Arts Council England.