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The Ears Have Walls: A Survey of Sound Games

David Kanaga and Fernando Ramallo -  Panoramical

David Kanaga and Fernando Ramallo - Panoramical

The Ears Have Walls:
A Survey of Sound Games    
Curated by Chaz Evans and Stephan Moore
December 1, 2017 - February 25, 2018

An exhibition spanning two locations:
VGA Gallery: 2418 W Bloomingdale Ave #102
and Experimental Sound Studio's Audible Gallery: 5925 N Ravenswood Ave

Vernissage @ Experimental Sound Studio: Thursday, November 30, 6-9pm
Opening reception @ VGA Gallery: Friday, December 1, 5-8pm

VGA Gallery public viewing hours: Wednesdays 5-8pm/Sundays 12-5pm
ESS Audible Gallery public viewing hours: Sundays 1-5pm

Human awareness of space is a constant negotiation between many senses—hearing, vision, and proprioception. Underneath our primary focus on the visible world, our ears, minds, and tactile faculties constantly play in an economy of attention; favoring some sounds over others, registering the physical dimensions of our surroundings, distinguishing voices from background atmosphere, or filtering everything out except one critical auditory message. The sonic world is oversaturated with options, and we constantly parse through them, seeking cues to significant occurrences, with a listening attention that is both deliberate and involuntary.

The artworks in The Ears Have Walls are video games that experiment with those economies by inverting the ratio of attention between the screen and the speakers. In doing so, they assign audio to a lead role instead of merely a support for video or a confirmation of transmitted commands. As an under-recognized, but longstanding, genre in video games, sound games offer frameworks and pose questions that help us better understand and develop new strategies for listening; especially for a historical moment where listening is integrated with electronic media as a constitutive part of everyday experience.

The artworks in this exhibition span all levels of video game production, from solo practitioners like David Kanaga and his dog opera Oikospiel Book #1, to international studio productions like Masaya Matsuura's PaRappa the Rapper, originally released for Sony Playstation in 1996. This is the first dual-gallery exhibition between VGA Gallery and Experimental Sound Studio. This new collaboration is an effort to foster connections between Chicago's video game and sound production communities.

Including work by:

VGA Gallery is generously supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, individuals, and private and corporate foundations.

Experimental Sound Studio’s programs & services are made possible through the generosity of our members and donors, including significant contributions from anonymous donors. Major support is provided by the DEW Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, a CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

@ VGA Gallery, 2418 W Bloomingdale Ave #102, Chicago, IL, 60647 & Experimental Sound Studio Audible Gallery, 5925 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60660


Earlier Event: November 13
ChiDM Presents: Chaz Evans on Feng Mengbo
Later Event: January 23
ChiDM Presents: Jonathan Kinkley