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Subtropics, the Miami festival that invites you to open your ears, re-sounds

All sounds are important, “there is not one better than another,” because they all help “develop an intuition of what reality is,” says Gustavo Matamoros, founder of Subtropics, the festival that every two years invites to open The ears to experimental music in Miami.

Created in 1989, the festival focuses on its issue number 24, which begins this Wednesday, in a “lost art” and “more necessary than ever”: the ability to listen.

“Listen” is titled precisely one of two sound art installations with which the contest will be inaugurated and its author is Matamoros himself, who has adapted a project that he carried out in a busy street in Miami Beach to a Closed space and dark so the ears are alert.

The second installation is “Microcosmos”, by Colombian Alba Triana, who presents a vibrating sculpture that makes the resonances of a saucer felt that otherwise would not be felt.

From Thursday, Subtropics will perform performances by experimental musicians such as Olivia Block, Abbey Rader, John Driscoll, Jack Wright, Richard Garet, Barbara Held and Benton C. Bainbridge.

From Spain will arrive the sound artists Miguel Álvarez-Fernández and Víctor Aguado Machuca, who will accompany via Ferrer-Molina Skype. All three are members of the Association of Spanish Experimental Musicians.

The festival, organized by the South Florida ArtCenter Foundation, also includes seminars and workshops in its program and will conclude on July 22 with a seven-hour marathon dedicated to sound art and experimental music.

Undated photograph of Alba Triana.

Matamoros points out that basically what is intended with Subtropics is that people are willing to explore, to “open the mind to different things,” to “sounds that are not accustomed to hear.”

Among musicians and artists participating in Subtropics there are those who produce experimental music with classical instruments and those who experiment with everything: instruments and sound.

The young John Driscoll, known for his work with rotating robotic loudspeakers, will present three original compositions created with modified electronic instruments.

Matamoros is a lover of sounds. If he had to stay with one of those that his native Venezuela produces today, it would be the night cacerolazos in Caracas and other cities.

There are no ugly or cute sounds, but the human being – he says – closes the ears to those who do not want to hear. “Although the ears do not have eyelids like the eyes, we have mental eyelids,” says Matamoros.

For the Venezuelan composer, “a sound is an evidence of something that has happened. Something is transformed and produces a sound”, affirms this artist who is inspired essentially in nature.

For years, the Everglades, the immense South Florida wetland, have been visiting for the night to hear their “fantastic sounds.”

In these visits he has been able to appreciate “changes in the sound landscape”, such as more or less sounds of a certain type. Abundance is a sign of health and if there are fewer sounds you can intuit that there is not enough water in that area of ​​the marshes and that the fauna has sought refuge in other areas, he explains.

It is that way of listening, that “more intimate and functional relationship with sound”, which has always wanted to promote with Subtropics, an appointment that until 2009 was annual and since then biennial.

The composer Alba Triana, who also has as muse to nature, is interested in intangible elements, what is not perceived, and how to extract their inner sounds.

“I use waves, what people do not see, to make the resonances of an object perceptible. In nature everything is resonating, vibrating, but we do not perceive it,” explains Efe.

The same thing happens with the solidity of an object. It seems solid, but the reality is that it is not, that there are spaces in its structure, says Triana, who agrees with Matamoros that “we have lost the ability to hear” not only the sounds of the world, but other beings humans.

Experimental music and sound art are important for Triana, because they seek to generate experiences, “to have a higher level of empathy and connection with the world”.

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