From Futurism to Fluxus, through to Twitter sonifications, this excellent exhibition presents the historical and contemporary development of sound art since the 1950s with works by over 90 international artists. The exhibition emphasizes the auditory experience, but also highlights the visual and interactive experience of sound with sound sculptures, sound objects, sound installations and sound environments.
Many pieces have interactive elements that transform the perception of sound from a peripheral sense into a participatory environment for the senses such as Paul DeMarini’s Rain Dance, heard only when walking with an umbrella underneath dripping water. Other works invite visitors to contribute to a work such as in Benoît Maubrey’s Temple, a massive sound sculptural representation of the Tholos at Delphi composed of hundreds of recycled loudspeakers, where visitors can phone in sounds to add to the work’s “white noise.”
Ground-breaking historical sound works are presented such as The Dream House by La Monte Yong and Marian Zazaeela, an environment which integrates sound, light and sine oscillations, although the exhibition’s emphasis is on new works. The well-conceived design (without sonic bleed) creates a multilayered sonic dialogue that allows visitors to explore the multifaceted ways artists enhance our ability to hear and experience sound. The exhibition also includes a number of fascinating European sound archives and an excellent accompanying program of live performances.
Tricia Van Eck is an independent curator and Artistic Director of 6018NORTH in Chicago.