Fulcrum Arts presents Lawrence English: Seirá, a new public sound artwork, as part of AxS Festival: City as Wunderkammer. Seirá re-appropriates the decommissioned Los Angeles Civil Defense System, using its networked topography across the county as a means considering sound’s evolving role in the public sphere. The work will consist of a twelve minute sound composition by English that will be broadcast simultaneously across six of the remaining civil defense sirens across the greater Los Angeles area, every day at dusk.
The sound materials themselves suggest a requiem of sorts; a distant echo emanating from a period of Los Angeles’ history that is fast disappearing; the artwork punctuating an important social memory slowly erased by redevelopment and the attrition of time.
The etymology of the word seirá is from the Ancient Greek and refers to a cord or binding. In the context of this piece, the word recognizes that sounds’ material properties bind together places and communities. Seirá uses Los Angeles’ historic civil defense system as the basis for an acoustic sounding of the city. The word also broadly refers to the idea of series, something that again is represented in this work, a series of soundings that exist in excess of a singular experience. The work, whilst mapping the greater part of Los Angeles County can only be experienced locally, within the acoustic horizon of the artwork. This sounding reminds us of the critical role sound has played in shaping and maintaining notions of boundary, community and communication.