News / Arts & Entertainment

Audio Art Sounds Off at NYC Art Museum

Tristan Perich's "Mictrotonal Wall" breaks down "white noise" into 1500 of an infinite number pitches that can be experienced together and in sequence by MoMA visitors. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Tristan Perich's "Mictrotonal Wall" breaks down "white noise" into 1500 of an infinite number pitches that can be experienced together and in sequence by MoMA visitors. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Phillips
Art is thought of as a visual medium, but sound is the focus of a new show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

MoMA presents an auditory landscape with an exhibit called "Soundings, a Contemporary Score."

“The museum-goer walks into a space, and because they are in MoMA, they know they are going to see something traditional, like Picasso," said curator Barbara London. "But they are going to see something very unconventional and maybe surprising. Maybe they’re baffled.”

Many museum-goers are baffled, then amused by Richard Garet’s “Before Me” installation, which amplifies the sound of a glass marble spinning on the metal casing of a phonograph turntable.  

Audio Art Sounds Off NYC Modern Art Museum
Audio Art Sounds Off NYC Modern Art Museum i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Sound, video and memory combine in “Music While We Work,” by Hong-Kai Wang, in which Taiwanese retirees record the sounds they heard during their working life at a sugar refinery.  

There’s a common theme among the 16 artists represented here.   

“I think most of the artists in the show want you to listen or pause and listen," London said. "They’re saying, ‘Hey, slow down. There are various forms of poetry and beauty in the world.’”

It is the world the unaided human ear cannot hear that animates Norwegian artist Jana Winderen’s sound montage, “Ultrafield.”

Audio Art Sounds Off at NYC Art Museumi
X
August 16, 2013 7:07 PM

Winderen used echolocation devices to capture the ultrasonic radar made by bats, and tiny ultra-sensitive underwater microphones to record the movements of sea beetles less than two millimeters long. She wants to draw attention to endangered ecosystems in the earth’s hidden worlds, and give the listener a chance to experience their magic.    

“It's installed in a dark space," Winderen said. "And I am actually hoping people can slow down and enjoy also the listening experience itself, not necessarily thinking about what it is, or what kind of a message I have with it.”

Some sounds are hiding in plain sight, but we don’t have the subtlety of perception to pick them out. At a distance of five meters or so, Tristan Perich’s  “Microtonal Wall,” emits “white noise.”

That is a sound containing so many sounds, or pitches, that no individual one can be distinguished. Leaves rustling in the breeze and the ocean surf are both examples of the phenomenon.

Perich has broken four octaves of the musical scale into 1,500 of the pitches that make up those octaves and given each pitch its own small speaker. Close up, or moving slowly past those speakers, one hears their differences.

"My piece, with 1,500 speakers, each playing individual pitches, is still just a finite fraction of this infinite sound," Perich said. "It’s just a gesture towards this idea of the infiniteness of white noise, building it up.”   

Sound that is implied, rather than heard, has made some of the loudest buzz at the MoMA show. Camille Norment’s work “Triplight,” consists mostly of a stand-up steel ribbed microphone, circa 1955, used by performers like Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Inside the mic, she has placed a bright flickering light. 
Loneliness and the horrors of the Holocaust are evoked by Susan Philipz' acoustic work "Study for Strings." (Adam Phillips/VOA)Loneliness and the horrors of the Holocaust are evoked by Susan Philipz' acoustic work "Study for Strings." (Adam Phillips/VOA)
x
Loneliness and the horrors of the Holocaust are evoked by Susan Philipz' acoustic work "Study for Strings." (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Loneliness and the horrors of the Holocaust are evoked by Susan Philipz' acoustic work "Study for Strings." (Adam Phillips/VOA)

“One thing I wanted to do was to play with the idea of inability of articulation, the stuttering voice perhaps, this desire to express oneself and the struggle it often entails," Norment said. "And the light casts a shadow that is reminiscent of vertebrae and ribs, or a ribcage or a mask. So the piece, in a way, reenacts the presence of the body that is no longer present.”

Susan Philipsz' “Study for Strings,” is the most heart-wrenching piece in the show. It’s based on a 1943 orchestral work Czech composer Pavel Haas wrote while in a German concentration camp.

Soon after performing the work for a Nazi propaganda film, Haas and his orchestra members were killed. The musicians in Philipsz’ artwork play only two of the parts in the score, emphasizing the absence of the other players.

It’s just one of the pieces in the Museum of Modern Art's “Soundings” show that highlight the dance between silence and sound.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."