Forma y percepción. DAVID VÉLEZ
(Impulsive Habitat 2012)


Recently I received a book through the post called Vanished Ocean.
I was distractedly reading through fragments of this during my second full experience of David Velez’s ‘Forma y percepción’. In many ways sounds and ideas, clearly unconnected to each other in conception, can come together in a kind of synchronicity.

Anyone who has ever played a song on their stereo with the television on without the volume will have noticed how the action on screen often seems to occur in time with the music. This is how life really is. We can’t devote our minds solely to using one sense because we are unable to put our other senses on hold. Neither can we stop our thought processes. Therefore each time we listen to a sound work it is in a different environment. A different situation as we are surrounded by sensations forever in flux.

At one point I was reading a passage about a huge mudslide that happened in this deep, prehistoric  sea, and the sounds coming through the headphones created a vivid sense of the image, the movement and the mystery of this unseen event.


Using such contexts as falling water, bird sounds, large clanking metal objects and radio waves, Velez creates a tapestry of changing scenes. The amount of processing used to achieve these tableaux is irrelevant. The object of the piece seems not to be a depiction of nature or reality, but to allow us to form our own personal scenarios individually.

Although almost thirty minutes long, ‘Forma y percepción’ is punctuated by areas of silence where one section fades and, after a brief period, another emerges. Indeed close to the end of the track it seems everything is over, but it is simply a prolonged hush which adds a poignancy to the sounds which follow. A kind of coda of water and birds. A closure.


How to listen to this work?

Should we approach it like an explorer might attempt to cut through the undergrowth to catch sight of a temple hidden deep in the centre of a dense jungle? Is David Velez trying to show us a truth that is concealed at the core of this carefully constructed composition?

Is it a puzzle? Are we to divine a meaning from the juxtaposition of sonorities? Is the trick to identify the sources and map them in our minds? Is it a cryptic reference to something that if we approached it in the right way would be obvious and profound?

I think not. ‘Forma y percepción’ works as a catalyst, a seed for ideas. An unspooling stream of consciousness.

When we allow controlled, composed sound to enter a space, for example by playing this sound work through speakers into a room, we change the space. Obviously the dimensions remain the same, but the quality of the atmosphere and our perception of time changes. If we read whilst listening, again things are transformed. Suddenly the words function alongside the music.

There are many ways to listen to any material. ‘Forma y percepción’ is a piece which opens itself up to any number of approaches. It functions as a medium in which to grow ideas. High praise indeed.

-Chris Whitehead

David Vélez website
Impulsive Habitat website 

Chris Whitehead

Sound artist.