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.
Seirá will be installed at six sites across the Greater Los Angeles area, and will play for twelve minutes every day at dusk from November 2-11:
Nov. 2, 5:59pm
Nov. 3, 5:58pm
Nov. 4, 4:57pm
Nov. 5, 4:56pm
Nov. 6, 4:55pm
Nov. 7, 4:54pm
Nov. 8, 4:54pm
Nov. 9, 4:53pm
Nov. 10, 4:52pm
Nov. 11, 4:51pm
A Brief Introduction To The Los Angeles Sirens
The history of the Los Angeles Civil Defense Sirens traces its root to the mid-20th century. Following a modest deployment of air raid sirens during the Second World War, Los Angeles county, in the 1950s and 1960s, to develop one of the largest civil defence warning systems in the world. The system, which was developed as a means of providing an early warning against possible nuclear and ICBM attacks during the cold war, operated until January 1985, when it was officially decommissioned. Since that time, the number of sirens has gradually dwindled, with approximate one third of the 200+ sirens installed, now removed.
About the Artist
Lawrence English is an artist, composer, and curator based in Australia. For 20 years, English has dedicated his practice to site-specific histories and the vibrations of places and events, on physical, historical, and political levels. He founded the renowned multi-arts organization and imprint, Room40, in 2000, issuing over 200 editioned works of emerging and established artists.
English creates site specific artworks exploring the politics of perception. His works investigate transformations of space and place, and ask audiences to become aware of their engagement with phenomenon that sits at the periphery of their awareness. His works have been presented at venues including SF MOMA; CTM Berlin, Germany; Gallery of Modern Art, Australia; and the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. In 2017 he was awarded a PhD at Queensland University of Technology, his thesis developing a new critical theoretical framework for listening as it pertains to creative practice. With interviews on his unique approach featured in The Guardian and NPR, English also lectures widely throughout Australia, Europe, and at various universities in North American including Harvard and Brown University.
The project has been made possible with the generous support from the Mike Kelley Foundation For The Arts.
Our gratitude to the following Los Angeles City and County officials for their support:
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell
Christine Peters, Policy Deputy
George Hakopiants, Field Deputy
Councilmember Jose Huizar
Julio Torres, Senior Field Deputy
Edna Degollado, Field Deputy
Los Angeles County
Leslie Luke, Deputy Director of Emergency Management
Charles Jett II, Administrative Assistant
This project could not have been possible without the assistance of so many organizations and individuals. Our most heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth Kline and Ash Nichols from The Industry, Reid Dammann, Angela Gaspar-Milanovic, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Lara Holman Garritano, Ed Patuto and David Hernandez, and Ciara Ennis for their generosity, support, and guidance.
Seirá (Duet For Choir And Federal Thunderbolt 500 Siren) is performed by The Australian Voices (artistic director, Gordon Hamilton).