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 Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”