Aug 062013

I am teaching a class this Fall titled Sound Matters. Months ago, as I was preparing the materials for this course, which is an introduction to sound as a tool that can cut across disciplines, I started to despair that there might be no events available to my students that could contend with the incredible experience of A Murder of Crows by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s that coincided with my class last fall.

Thankfully, there are at least three worth noting, and you can read about them in this New York Times article by Blake Gopnik, titled Did You Hear That? It Was Art – Museums Embrace Works Made of Sound.

  1. Janet Cardiff – The Forty Part Motet
    at the Cloisters
    September 10–December 8, 2013

    While we have seen this piece by Cardiff in a variety of NYC contexts from MOMA to PS1 to Lincoln Center, it will be particularly interesting to experience the work in the context of the Cloisters.The Forty Part Motet is most often presented in a neutral gallery setting, but in this case the setting is the Cloisters’ Fuentidueña Chapel, which features the late twelfth-century apse from the church of San Martín at Fuentidueña, near Segovia, Spain, on permanent loan from the Spanish Government. Set within a churchlike gallery space, and with superb acoustics, it has for more than fifty years proved a fine venue for concerts of early music.
    – From the Metropolitan Museum website

  2. Soundings: A Contemporary Score
    The Museum of modern Art
    August 10–November 3, 2013

    Soundings marks the first major exhibition of sound art to be held at MOMA and is the impetus for Gopnik’s article. It will be interesting to see (hear) these works exhibited in relation to each other as many have been created for more site specific or discrete locations like the High Line (Stephen Vitiello), or the Kassel Hauptbahnhof (Susan Phillipz).  I am curious how this exhibition will act as a canonizing agent or at the very least, apply an easy categorization for what “sound art” (a contested term by many who might be labelled sound artists) is. Gopnik mentions this in his article and refers to concerns offered by the theorist/artist Seth Kim Cohen in his blog Voices of Broken Neck.Here’s an extract from the Exhibition page:

    MoMA’s first major exhibition of sound art presents work by 16 of the most innovative contemporary artists working with sound. While these artists approach sound from a variety of disciplinary angles—the visual arts, architecture, performance, computer programming, and music—they share an interest in working with, rather than against or independent of, material realities and environments. These artistic responses range from architectural interventions, to visualizations of otherwise inaudible sound, to an exploration of how sound ricochets within a gallery, to a range of field recordings—including echolocating bats, abandoned buildings in Chernobyl, 59 bells in New York City, and a sugar factory in Taiwan.

    – From the MOMA website

  3. Susan Philipsz – “Day Is Done”
    Governors Island

    While there isn’t much information out there about this yet, Gopnik implies that this installation, Governors Island’s first permanent piece of public art, is due in the Fall. While most of the press, including the page on the Governors Island website, states that she has not yet chosen a location, Gopnik’s article reveals the site she has in mind. “Ms. Philipsz is mounting four old-fashioned “trumpet” speakers — the kind you’d see in an old ballpark — across the facade of a sprawling old barracks, and for an hour every evening, they will broadcast the notes of the bugle call “Taps.” The tones of the ghostly melody will pass from speaker to speaker, fanning out across the island’s open spaces.”While the image above may not be the location chosen by Philipsz, it gives me an opportunity to share a link to these amazing images from the UK Daily Mail website.
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