Do you like any of the following things:
3. Looking at things from tall buildings?
If yes, and if you’re anywhere near NYC, you should absolutely check out ‘Sound Spills’ at 1500 Broadway, Times Square at 43rd.
Whenever the lease on an office space expires, the building guts the floor and builds it up from scratch. But for two months or so, they give the space over to new media art in the abandoned, interstitial space of this corporate office building overlooking Times Square. This time around, Thom O’Nions and Richard Sides were curating the 7th and the 33rd floors.
The exhibit itself was almost as cool as the space—it focused on the blending of sounds.
Have you ever been to a museum with new media incorporated, and been frustrated by the lack of insulation between different pieces? You’ll be looking and listening at one piece but unable to tune out the six other noisy things going on in the installations around it.
This exhibit was trying to work with and highlight exactly that problem or effect.
First, you had to get over the ridiculously amazing view from the 33rd floor of a building overlooking Times Square.
The space was almost entirely empty except for some geometric structures with speakers. The speakers weren’t all active at the same time, but there was always more than one going and the sounds that they were playing fell into different categories.
For the first half of our time there, they were playing beats and tones—you would move across the space and get different blends of sound, but it was always a cohesive kind of an experience.
Then they shifted to speech. They had a recording of an oration some guy was giving (some meta-analysis of his own speech… luckily it wasn’t the point), but the speakers weren’t synchronized. Suddenly the blending of sound was a completely disorienting experience.
It was a really effective showcase of the point of the exhibition.
The 7th floor… less so, but absolutely interesting in its own right. The blending of sound experience there was closer to the actually annoying experience of being in a museum where the installations are clashing. Yes, that was the point… but just recreating the point didn’t make it any less frustrating.
I think I was bothered by it mostly because the installations themselves were genuinely interesting.
There was an infinite film—a projector set up so that the film looped and twisted back over itself to continuously display changing colors. It wasn’t projected onto anything, so you couldn’t see the ‘film’ without holding something up to be projected onto… but you could see the film itself, so you could see which color was coming up.
Another piece: A projection of a room with two screens displaying a CGI videogame in action, two swivel fans (moving slightly out of sync), two record players, two DVD players, two potted plants and two incense sticks.
The CGI—the supposedly ‘computer generated’ part of the image—was contrasted with the hyper-plastic room that the CGI screens were in, so you couldn’t really dismiss that fakeness and focus only on the fakeness of the CGI.
A video of a hand trying to bring two glasses of water to the same pitch by shifting their contents. A projection (into a corner) of a phonograph. A really great video that played off of the Apple swipe technique—with fingers swiping over and across, hands opening up to reveal ‘tacky’ computer icons and symbols and then folding it away again…
I’m not an expert on art or “new media”. I just know that I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.
If you have the time, check it out.