mark fell





attack on silence


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Attack on Silence brings together a series of works by British artist Mark Fell exploring the relationships between geometry, color, and waveform. These works have been shown around the world as performances, installations, and in print.

For the past decade Mark Fell has been one of the leading innovators in the fields of experimental electronic music and sound art. Combining interests in experimental music, contemporary art, computer technology and philosophy, his work has been performed and exhibited internationally to wide critical acclaim. Mark Fell is one half of SND.

Sacred geometries, and their sonic equivalents, are said to mirror the micro and macroscopic structures of the physical world; the complex harmonies of the Tibetan singing bowl, like the patterns of the Mandala, allow access to the deepest levels of the consciousness inducing meditative states that transform the very being of their participants. In the modern reciprocals of these technologies the shift is one of teleology. The sacred metals and antique art of the singing bowls give way to the magic of digital synthesis as sacred geometry gives proxy to psychophysiology and the cognitive neuroscience of brainwave entrainment.

Drawn from these sources—with mutual ambivalence—and realized through a distinct aesthetic minimalism, intricate combinations of form, color and sound are projected through a series of transitions, sometimes gradual, sometimes abrupt, sometimes giving way to sustained tones and repetitions. In a process of ever-emerging horizon—an attack on silence and a space for silence—the potential arises to be ensconced or alienated, a space for enchantment, for anxiety, for profound boredom or for reverie.

Are these phenomena affirmations or reconfigurations of the subject—routes to an authentic, spiritual or otherwise—or are they essentially physiological? Are they aesthetic distractions or intrusive technological interventions—pointers to dystopian possibilities? Are we being enlightened? Examined? Entertained? Enmeshed?

Recorded at The Music Research Centre at the University of York (UK) and snd studio Sheffield 2007 and 2008. Digital coding and mastering by tez.


Mark Fell we of course know from his work with SND, and his various solo releases, which, me thinks, were more interesting, since they broke away from the click and cuts movement. Though seemingly not as active as before, the recent years have been used to develop his own sound and video work, which this DVD is a representation of. He works with geometrical forms which react, or perhaps vice versa, to the music, which seems to be processed Tibetan singing bowls. They sound like sine waves here. There are three pieces on this DVD, which runs, at least on my DVD player as one track, and its hard to tell one piece from the other - there are three in total. Images and sounds remain the same throughout, of course within the parameters Fell choose. A very consistent work, which worked best for me in a totally dark room, with the sound turned up pretty loud. Swift stops and changes, bright colors only on a part of the screen, slowly changing sound and image, make this a beautiful work - provocative in all its simplicity. A strong work, moving away from the micro glitch movement and into a new sound world of its own. More serious avant-garde than microsound. Great work! (vital weekly, the netherlands)

One of digital music's leading innovators, Mark Fell is perhaps best known for being one half of the iconic clicks+cuts duo .snd, but his work as a solo artist - whether as Secular Musics Of South Yorkshire or under his own name - tends to be of a more experimental and sonically challenging ilk. That's certainly the case with this audio-visual project, which draws together highly minimal, morphing electronic sound designs (mixed in both stereo and Dolby 5.1 formats) with correspondingly morphing blocks of colour and shape. Divided into three chapters (ranging from two minutes to almost thirty-nine in duration), this disc offers an insight into synaesthetic correlations between sight and sound. While you might previously have bumped into this sort of experiment within the confines of the Raster Noton roster (particularly via someone like Ryoji Ikeda) Fell takes a more colourful, academic and less rhythmically conditioned approach, utilising high-end audio processing techniques to mould and remould sound, all accompanied by abstract yet highly organised visual displays which change in accordance with what you're hearing. While the images aren't exactly static, owners of plasma screens might start getting a tad nervous about screenburn during certain stretches - but hey, that's minimalism folks. Possibly the most intriguing section of the DVD comes during the second chapter, when a grid of incrementally different hues switches and transforms itself according to highly resonant blip tones, pulsing and filtering themselves as the piece progresses. It's all very bizarre when you stop and think about what you're actually fixating on; it seems like such a minuscule transmission of information, but Attack On Silence is most certainly something to be savoured by audiophiles and sound nerds the world over. Highly recommended. (boomkat, uk)

The correspondence between Arnold Schoenberg and Wassily Kandinsky at the beginning of the 20th century brims with the sanguine dream that they could be on the point of achieving some sort of synaesthesia, a new form in which the divisions between music and visual art collapsed, resulting in an incredible liberation for the human spirit. The two men fell out before they could ever really get started on this undertaking. However, in recent years, sound art has attepmted to marry the musical with the visual and explore what the consquence, if any, might be.

British artist Mark Fell has been working in this field for years. He combines interests in music (as on half os SND), art, technology and philosophy. He has examined the 'sacred geometries' that are said to be divined inm for the example, the Tibetan singing bowl or the patterns of the sand mandala, and pondered how their complexities might somehow unlock the doors to the deeper conciousness, with the assistant of cognitive neuroscience.

The three pieces which comprise Fell's Attack on Silence are denoted by their durations. "2:08" features a band of rainbow colours, shifting and changing in sync with an electronic soundtrack which rises to high pitched flurries, then recedes. The music feels subordinate to the visual experience, whose striplight mobility is acheived via a technical capability you feel Kandinsky would have loved to have at his own disposal. "16:19" is more austere. Two squares, subdivided into aluminum-like tiles, overlap, one almost superimposed on another. Marked by shifts in lengthily sustained tones, they change colour, from mauve to turquiose, to dark blue to khaki green. This is followed by a ping-ponging of diametrically opposed sub-squares, flashing pink and orange at iregular intervals, whose fast-approaching tedium is interrupted by a couscating burst of pink. "38:44" sets forth to what looks like a close-up glimpse of the Aurora Borealis as viewed through a visor, to a perpetually descending tonal arc reminiscent of the last section of Stockhausen's Hymnen. This then reverses upwards and flatlines into harsher, sustained tones while depicting shifting, Rothkoesque colour juxtapositions.

Fell's liner notes to this release are honest enough to address directly the questions of just what we are doing viweing these artefacts in our homes or at installations, and what we might expect to happen. "Are we enlightened? Examined? Entertained? Enmesshed?" Fell suggests dystopian possibilities for these sound art phenomena as well as the possibility of some transcendental experience, or simply that they might not achieve very much beyond diversion. As one who is sceptical about all things supposedly "transcendental", i might be more inclined to neuroscientific explanations. What I found most intriguing or disquieting here were the sudden, periodic jolts in these pieces when the screen went blank—the attacks of silence,so to speak—as well as the jolts when the action resumed, which reminded me, of all things, of the cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Something is happening here, some spark triggered off between sound and the the visual. Perhaps further neuroscientific research could determine what that 'something' is, or perhaps it is more desirable to leave well alone. (The Wire, UK)

It seems astonishing to me that LINE has reached its 37th release in such a short span of time. In relation to many other labels of their kind, LINE has achieved world wide recognition and respect amongst the minimalism/microsound community, and now, this their 2nd DVD release marks a new level of ambition. A notoriously difficult medium to project and sell in the current marketplace, DVD would seem an obvious route for the remit of the label – that of focussing on installation based audio or audio visual work In a minimalist framework.

Mark Fell's Attack on Silence (a performance? An installation?) harnesses the power of the visual medium in its purest form, by integrating delicate sonic structures with highly simplistic and stylised visualisations. Given the ever increasing level of sophistication in today's stock PC visualisation skins with which to compete, Fell's work warrants extra respect, as he slices the screen in half with narrow bands of undulating primary colours, and bombards us with swells and pits of pin-prick sonic tonalities. The last time I was this blown away with such a subtle, yet truly revelatory audio-visual feast was on Ryoji Ikeda's Formula series. Fell deploys the same pillarbox format that Ikeda does, confining the raw elements to a limited frame, set on a piercing black backdrop, which on a home cinema sized screen, gives the effect of being suspended in space. This to me, is some kind of Post modern, post millennial psychedelia, a head trip which takes in all of the sensory apparatus, albeit with a level of subtlety and grace that far transcends the swirly, organic forms epitomised by the medium in the psychedelic generation’s heyday. The sleeve notes in this gorgeously packaged DVD more than hint at sacred geometries, mandala's and consciousness altering patterning, a much cited reference point perhaps, but with a unique, rigorously geometric spin that Fell is more than capable of manifesting in sound and light

One short, and two other long form pieces see us moving from shimmering bands of colour, going through a panoply of transitions and gradations, in synch with a deliciously tonal and there the occasional tract of near suspended animation, where the screen appears frozen, and then suddenly becomes active and immersive. Fell questions his own modus operandi, begging us the question of whether or not these apparitions are truly spiritual, transcendental, or merely physiological responses to a stimulus - he questions whether or not we are enlightened, examined, entertained, or enmeshed? For me, this work encompasses all of the above, a highly detailed and powerful transitional digital painting, that forces us to encounter the indescribable, the ineffable, and indeed the mundane..nirvana achieved in under an hour. This release will excite and challenge in one easy lesson..a minor masterpiece, and one that I will revisit again and again. – remarkable. (whiteline, uk)

Forma, color y sonido se han buscado incansablemente etre se desde mediados del siglo XIX persiguiendo un arte de naturaleza sinestésica. Gran parte de los trabajos realizados en esta dirección han permanecido, sin embargo, en ámbito de la experimentación, y han dejado tras de si una historiografía semi-oculta que atañe por igual al arte, la ciencia y la estética. El medio digital y las correspondencias que permite realizar su lenguaje binario han supuesto un renancer de estos experimentos a manos de muchos artisas que, de nuevo, se interesan por la creación sinestésica. Junto a Ryoji Ikeda o Stephan Mathieu, Mark Fell (50% de SND) es uno de los músicos más avezados en este tipo de propuestas. Attack on Silence recoge el trabajo de este artista que combina geometría y sonidos cartesianos en discurso tan rudo como interesante. Los afortunados que dispongan de un sistema de sonido 5.1 en casa verán aumentada la experiencia sensorial a la que nos invita Fell y que presentó en la última edición de Sónar. (go mag, spain)

Attack on Silence is an audio-visual project by British media provocateur Mark Fell (aka one-half of snd) that merges aspects of experimental electronic music, sound art, and computer-generated visuals into a tripartite whole. Recorded at The Music Research Centre at the University of York in the UK and at the .snd studio in Sheffield, the work offers a highly-stylized, "synaesthetic" exercise in audio-visual synchronicity where all sound designs (available to be heard in both stereo and Dolby 5.1 formats) are mirrored by abstract colour and shape displays of minimal design.

A mere two minutes in duration, the first part pairs a roller-coaster ride of sonic descent and ascent with rapidly morphing horizontal bands of colour gradations. The sixteen-minute middle piece displays geometric 8 x 8 pixel grids with value gradations shown in incremental steps against a dark grey base. The intermittent shifts that punctuate the wavering electrical tones are synchronized to colour shifts, with bell-like tones matched to colour changes in two diagonally-positioned squares; the grids reverse and adjust in tandem with the flickering tones, percussive pitter-patter, and high-speed martial rolls. Attack on Silence's most extreme section arrives with the thirty-nine minute third section where slowly and abruptly mutating colour fields match up with reverberations whose rhythmically resonating tones slowly ascend in pitch, creating an almost unbearable tension during the climb. Colours subtly spread and bleed into others as they undergo transformation. In one episode, a white horizontal band, initially shown with a thin black vertical at the center and yellow bleeding off on both sides, turns grey and the constricting black bar changes to violet as the two-tiered sine tones wind both up and down.

Admittedly, the highly-stylized Attack on Silence is restricted in the range of its visual and audio materials yet its visually rich display does prove hypnotic and, though its most natural presentation is as a gallery installation, having it on DVD allows the gallery to be brought into one's home and experienced at one's convenience. Bolstered by impeccable production values and deluxe presentation, the release is hardly a mass-appeal item though certainly complements Line's catalogue of austere minimalist works. (

Ob man sich bei den Videoinstallationen von Mark Fell zu Tode langweilt oder aber sich per Meditation in andere Sphären beamen lässt, das bleibt jedem Zuschauer/-hörer selbst überlassen. Kalt lassen einen diese videoakustischen Variationen über Sound, Farbe, Form und Wellenlänge jedenfalls so oder so nicht. Fell, dessen Arbeiten bereits auf der ganzen Welt als Performaces oder auch gedruckt gezeigt worden sind, arbeitet mit den Gegensätzen und Anziehungen zwischen Geometrien, Skalen, Rhythmen und Spektren. Sein Credo scheint dabei zu sein: Minimalismus macht sichtbar. Was die tibetanischen Schalen oder die indischen Mandalas für die Yogis früherer Zeiten waren, das sind Fells Anordnungen für den Elektro-Aficionado mit Hang zur Esoterik. Wer diese DVD in sein Wohnzimmer lässt, macht seine Behausung zur Galerie - Besuch, der auch nach fünf Minuten Fell-Aussetzung nicht entnervt wieder abzieht, gehört zu den echten Freunden. (Titel Magazin, Germany)

The world is beyond doubt flooded by people releasing industrial quantities of gobbledygook about incidents connected to speculative "illuminations" in relation to sounds that actually don't mean a iota for the human brain, if not for lulling it to sleep by the association with comfortable suggestions of snugness and warmth typical of the blind-minded. In this case we'’re dealing with physical resonances that many of those desperate entities regard as sheer noise while keeping the chit-chat a propos of supposed next lives and evolutional enhancements going on, yet finding pleasure in the easiest brands of classical music of three centuries ago (so much for "progress") or believing to cure their anxiety via so-called "prayers."

Mark Fell, a British artist working on the fringes of artistic genres, explores "the relationships between geometry, colour and waveform" on this, a DVD where the simplicity of the utilized means is—as usual, one would say—the key for a rigorous experience of outright transcendence, not attained by listening to someone who scares the shit out of unhinged audiences by hypothesizing intimidating scenarios of boundless ignorance, usually conjured up by the consequences of an overly abundant dinner on the sleeping process. Fell achieves the objective through the adaptation of the senses to events that link our perceptive channels and organs efficiently: waveforms (mainly derived from computer-processed Tibetan bowls), geometric shapes, hues derived from barely conceivable colours.

By looking at the video we're instantly captured as the graphic representations of the sounds manifest themselves with unmistakable precision, stopping only when the sonic substance ceases its momentary existence. The design is extremely simple, and all the more significant: intelligent waveshaping is the basis of the whole thing, relating gradations and visual oscillations to the aural involvement coming as easy as breathing for those in the know. The psyche is dazzled by the associations, its functionality improved at the same time. The music is gorgeous per se, a cycle of electronic emissions which gradually evolve from scattered surges, strident wakes and rhythmic clicks to the often literally astonishing unhurried glissandos characterizing the third and longest segment.

To quote the composer: "Are these phenomena affirmations or reconfigurations of the subject (…) or are they essentially physiological? (…) Are we being enlightened? Examined? Entertained? Enmeshed?" This writer could not answer to these questions. What's important is that we're not subjected to counterfeit mysticism, a constant presence—nourished by people’s discouraging weakness—hiding money-spinning intentions in today's practices. Attack On Silence is a sample of serious borderline ability, definitely not suitable for just-woke-up laggards. (Massimo Ricci)

Qualcuno ricordera gli .snd come uno dei gruppi di punta della stagione clicks + cuts, corrente che gravitava-a ridosso del 2000-intorno alla label tedesca Mille Plateaux e portava alle estreme conseguenze piu concettuali dell'elettronica astratta unendo le potenzialita di software di generazione, compionamento e controllo dei suoni (Max/Msp e Super_Collider in primis); il recente (e relativo) ritorno alla ribalta di titoli ed estetiche musique concrete, minimal e sound art e, per finire, una cotta insaziabile per il pensiero post-strutturalista francese. Mark Fell e meta degli .snd e questo DVD raccoglie una serie di progetti audi-video gia esposti in mostre internazionali. Le liner notes alludono a "geometrie sacre e i loro equivalenti sonori che riflettono le micro e macro strutture del mondo fisico; complesse armonie del canto tibetano, come i pattern di un mandala, consentono l'accesso ai piu profundi livelli della coscienza" e nonostante non e il caso di entrare nello specifico dei risvolti mistici, non siamo tanto lontani dalle suggestioni del video. Le tre sequenze sono un esempio di come il formalismo piu estremo puo transformarsi in pura psichedlia: geometrie cambiano configurazione e colore, in transizioni morbide o brutali, assecondando un'electtronica iper-minimale tutta sincewaves, glissati, drones, sovratoni e glitch. Dopo appena qualche minuto ci si accorge di essere completamenta prigionieri di questa straordinaria "macchina dei sogni" (7/8) (Blow Up, IT)

De DVD Attack on Silence bevat drie werken van de Brit Mark Fell. Zijn interesse in experimentele muziek, computertechnologie, hedenaagse kunst en filosofie resulteren hier in een onderzoek naar de relatie tussen geluid, geometrie en kleur. Startpunt van zijn onderzoek is de idee dat bepaalde patronen en hun sonische tegenhangers de onderliggende structuren van de fysieke wereld weerspiegelen. De harmonieen van de Tibetaanse klankschalen en de mandala's bijvoorbeeld zouden raken aan diepere bewustzijnsniveaus en een meditatieve staat veroorzaken bij degene die ze ondergaan. Fell zoekt daarven een eigentijdse, digitale vertaling. Concreet resulteert dat in drie lange stukken waarbij eletronische klanken en geometrische patronen gelijktijdig veranderen, waarschijnlijk doordat de een de ander aanstuurt. Een in hoogte wissellende, aanhoudende toon is gecombineerd met een horizontale balk waarin kleuren in breedte en van tint wisselen; een veld met vierkante blokjes binnen een bepaald spectrum verschiet gelijktijdig met de toonhoogte can een traag golvende puls; een reeks langzaam van toonhoogte of puls veranderende verticale balk, enzovoort. Wat bliijft over zonder de filosofische insteek: beeld-geluidsstukken die zeer minimaal, vaak mooi en fascinerend, soms optisch bedriegend en bij tijden inderdaad hallucinant zijn, maar een meditatieve staat van overgave is misschien wel een vereiste. (Gonza, NL)

Diese DVD fasst drei audiovisuelle Installationen von Mark Fell zusammen, bekannt als eine Hälfte von SND. LINE kündigen dabei nicht ohne Mut an, hiermit eine ganze Reihe zu etablieren, die sich Arbeiten im minimalistischen Rahmen widmen soll. Nach dem letzjährigen Reiheneinsteig Camera Lucida is Attack on Silence ein würdiges Banner, denn die intensitaten, die Fell aus seinen extrem reduierten Setups herausholt, sind beeindruckend. Geometrische Abstraktion von Farbverlaufsarrangements, die an Farfeldmalerei erinnern, treffen sich in einer synästhetischen Mitte mit Bleeps, Clicks un Sinusmodulationen a la Ikeda, und machen dabei das Fass zwischen psychedelischem Trip, Befremdung, Langewille und Sinnesrausch auf, in einer Strenge und Einfachheit, die ebensowenig ihre Vorbilder verleugnet wie sie sie konsequent auf die nächste Stufe weiterführt. Am besten gefällt mir de hermetische Rätselhaftigkeit vor allem der zweiten der Teile, die den Zuschauer zum Versuchobjekt einer ausserirdischen intelligenz zu machen scheint. Shöne Linernote dazu, die vor Sehen überhaupt keinen Sinn machen, danach aber total. Ich muss mir einen Beamer kaufen. (de:bug, DE)

Autentiche sculture sonore quelle del progetto audio e video Attack On Silence di Mark fell. Il suo lavoro mette in gioco esperienze percettive attive ardite, grazie a geometrie spazieli e di frequenza che arrivano a tracciare alienate simbiosi. Un vero e proprio quadro digitale dal tratto dichiaratamente minimale, che a differenza del Royoji Ikeda di Formula fa a meno dei ritmati registri, ma non del colore limitato comunque a un determinato monocromo susfondo nero. Tre capitoli nettamente differenti, dalle repentine ascese e discese della prima traccia che prende vita nei caleidoscopici accostamenti in fasce orizzontali, alle geome- trie in 8x8 pixel dei successivi sedici minuti.Una sorta di configurazione incrementale di una multiviewer per segnali in 16:9 alla cui base stanno le sfumature e le to nalità (del grigio,del blu o del verde) mentre alle estremità le intermittenze sono realizzate con accostamenti cromatici puntuali e atonali. Decisamente intrigante la sospensione che permea l’ascolto dei trentanove minuti della terza e ultima sezione, una sorta di banda orizzontale suddivisa in sezioni verticali di colori vibranti e sanguigni.Tangibile in questo caso la fonte sonora che abbandona la gerarchia per sottoporsi alla diffusione, al contrasto e infine al repentino mutamento. Per tutta la durata di Attack On Silence lo schermo appare ibridato e l’immagine statica ma la matrice pulsante:un’esperienza sonora e cognitiva di notevole impatto o una sorta di consapevole e profondo passag gio iniziatico.Da avere! (Sentireascoltare, IT)

"Im Fluss der Reduktion" ...Ihre Computergrafiken folgen einem ähnlich strengen Formwillen, bei dem allein der Weg ans Ziel führt. Besonders gut zu sehen ist dies auf der SoloDVD von Mark Fell. Attack on Silence prësentiert Farb-und Sinustonspektren in permanenter Fliessbewegung und ohne besnennbaren Inhalt. Fell geht es auch hier weniger um Konzepteals um formale Aspekte. Deutlich wird das vor allem im mittleren Teil, in dem ein Raster aus acht mal acht Quardraten ze wechselnden Klangflächen immer neu eingefärbt wird oder einzelne Quadrate im Rhythmus mit Sinustönen aufleuchten. Wer sich nicht mit der blossen Gegenwart dieser Bilder und Klänge zufriedengeben möchte und fragt, was das soll, findet die Antwort womöglich auf Fells Homepage. Dort warden Besucher mit der Anküdigung von "Studien zu Langeweile, Bewusstseinskontrolle und tranzendentaler Meditation" begüßt. (Taz, DE)

© mark fell, modified February 11, 2011, at 03:48 PM PST edit print