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Announcement
August 25, 2014

Audible Spaces: Tristan Perich, Zarouhie Abdlian, and [The User]

David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University
[The User], Coincidence Engine One: Universal People’s Republic Time, 2008. 1,200 battery-powered alarm clocks and CNC-cut Styrofoam structure. © Thomas McIntosh.

The David Winton Bell Gallery is pleased to announce Audible Spaces: Tristan Perich, Zarouhie Abdlian, and [The User], an exhibition of contemporary sound art, on view at the Bell Gallery, August 30 to October 12, and the Cohen Gallery at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for Creative Arts, August 23 to October 12. An evening of artist talks, followed by a reception, will be held at the Bell Gallery on September 5, 5:30–8pm.

Audible Spaces presents three sound installations that encourage participants to explore the subtleties of listening. Tristan Perich, Zarouhie Abdalian, and [The User] have each created immersive environments using seemingly uniform sounds that dissolve into tonal, tactile, and temporal variations as participants engage with them. Perich’s Microtonal Wall (2011), on view in the Cohen Gallery, demonstrates the extraordinary complexity that can be generated using the most basic electronic tools. Drone-like from a distance, this 25-foot long sound field of 1-bit noise dissolves into 1,500 unique frequencies. Abdalian’s In Unison (2014) draws attention to each individual’s singularly embodied experience of listening. Parametric speakers embedded in the Bell Gallery’s ceiling project sonic avenues of equal frequencies that disrupt binaural hearing as they reverberate throughout. [The User]’s Coincidence Engine One: Universal People’s Republic Time (2008) makes the entropy of time audible. This amphitheater-like space filled with more than 1,000 ticking clocks provokes questions about homogeny, loss, and the spaces of public address. Unified by a shared economy of means, all three projects prompt participants to consider the dynamic relationship between sound, space, and personal subjectivity, while addressing a distinct set of historical, social, and sonic concerns.

Sound artist and theorist Brandon Labelle argues that “sound is intrinsically and unignorably relational: it emanates, propagates, communicates, vibrates, and agitates; it leaves a body and enters others; it binds and unhinges, harmonizes and traumatizes; it sends the body moving, the mind dreaming, the air oscillating.” This notion has permeated sound art since its inception and has driven artists to continually explore both the formal properties of singular sounds and the conditional nature of listening. In the 1960s, minimalist musicians in particular took up this cause. They developed radically simplified compositional structures to experiment with the spatial and temporal apperception of sound, in the hopes of expanding the horizons of aesthetic experience. Drawing on the critical strategies of minimalism, the artists in Audible Spaces use monotony, seriality and repetition—both visually and sonically—as they consider both what and how we hear.

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