Christine Sun Kim
A Contemporary Score. The exhibition features the work of 16 contemporary artists working with sound. The works include architectural interventions, visualizations of otherwise inaudible sound, an exploration of how sound ricochets within a gallery, and a range of field recordings of everything from bats to abandoned buildings in Chernobyl to 59 bells in New York City to a factory in Taiwan.
NEW YORK, July 15, 2013—The Museum of Modern Art presents Soundings: A Contemporary
Score, the first group exhibition at MoMA to single out sound as a form of artistic expression, and
one of the first of its kind in New York. The exhibition is on view from August 10 to November 3,
2013, in the third-floor Special Exhibitions Gallery and other locations around the Museum.
Soundings features the work of 16 contemporary artists working with sound, from the United
States, Uruguay, Norway, Denmark, England, Scotland, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan.
With a broad understanding of art, architecture, performance, telecommunications, philosophy,
and music, these artists move comfortably among mediums, while listening and hearing remain
central to their practice. Soundings is organized by Barbara London, Associate Curator, with Leora
Morinis, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA.
At a time when the experience of sound is increasingly private—delivered through earbuds and headphones—Soundings is a communal exploration of how and what we hear, and what we might make of it. Sound art, still a relatively undefined territory, satisfies artists’ urge to pioneer new forms. They inventively link sound both to the other human senses and to a variety of rich metaphysical and philosophical projects, and their works run the gamut from immersive tuned environments to sound-emitting objects to conceptual schematics on paper. The works include architectural interventions, visualizations of otherwise inaudible sound, an exploration of how sound ricochets within a gallery, and a range of field recordings of everything from bats to abandoned buildings in Chernobyl to 59 bells in New York City to a factory in Taiwan.
On view in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden is A Bell for Every Minute (2010) by Stephen Vitiello (American, b. 1964). For this work, Vitiello recorded a number of bells around New York. Here, 59 of them play, one every minute, including the New York Stock Exchange bell, the United Nations Peace Bell, bike bells, bells on cats’ collars, and alarm bells. At the top of each hour they all chime together.
Soundings resumes in a space outside the Special Exhibitions Gallery with Sergei Tcherepnin’s (American, b. 1981) Motor-Matter Bench (2013). For this work, Tcherepnintransformed a wooden subway bench into an audio speaker. When a visitor sits on the bench, music plays through the bench and the visitor’s body. Tcherepnin has stated, “I am attempting to expand aural dimensions by orchestrating flexible listening situations, which draw attention to the materiality and variation of sound as filtered through these objects.”
Within the corridor of the Special Exhibitions Gallery, the first work on view is Microtonal Wall (2011), by Tristan Perich (American, b. 1982). This large-scale work is made up of 1,500 one-bit speakers, individually tuned to create an intricately varied continuum of pitch, rendering this 25-foot wall a spectrum of sound. Perich has explained, “Each listener's exploration of that aural space shapes what they hear, from the totality of white noise (from a distance), to the single frequency of each speaker (up close).”
At the end of the corridor is Triplight (2008) by Camille Norment (American, b. 1970). For this work, Norment started with a 1955 Shure microphone, the model used by Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and other legendary jazz singers. Norment removed its original parts and replaced them with a small flickering light. This light casts a shadow, projecting onto the wall what appears to be a luminescent rib cage, evocative of an absent performer.
Ten additional works are spread throughout, including the installation Ridges on the Horizontal Plane (2011) by Luke Fowler (Scottish, b. 1978) and Toshiya Tsunoda (Japanese, b. 1964). This work features fans producing a gust that make a fabric screen billow. Projected on the screen is a slideshow of landscapes distorted by the wind gusts; pulled taut across the screen are piano strings, which create noise when the screen brushes up against them. Quite literally, the artists have made sound and image collide.
Marco Fusinato’s (Australian, b. 1964) Mass Black Implosion (Iannis Xenakis, Shaar) (2012) consists of five drawings in which Fusinato chose a single note on the page of a musical score as a focal point, then painstakingly connected it to every other note, seeming to suggest that all the notes should be played at once. This ongoing series, initiated in 2007, draws upon the scores of pioneering avant-garde composers such as Iannis Xenakis, whose scores are on view here.
Before Me (2012), by Richard Garet (American, b. Uruguay 1972), is a sculptural assemblage of outmoded technologies. The work’s centerpiece is an old record player with its platter upside down, and running at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. A marble placed at the upturned edge of the platter can advance only slightly before its momentum is overridden and it rolls back to its starting point. This action continues endlessly, suggesting the plight of Sisyphus.
In her series Scores and Transcripts (2012), Christine Sun Kim (American, b. 1980)—who was born deaf—combines and transforms the various types of notation that shape her understanding and communication: American Sign Language, musical notation, spoken English, and body language. In these drawings, these grammars and languages rub up against each other, allowing for the examination of their overlaps and differences and shifting her personal relationship to them.
2Jacob Kirkegaard’s (Danish, b. 1975) AION (2006) builds upon an earlier work by the artist Alvin Lucier who recorded and re-recorded a single phrase over and over. Kirkegaard expanded this idea by placing recording equipment in four abandoned spaces inside the exclusion area near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site, and then rerecording the results. In the final recordings, each of these ostensibly silent, empty spaces takes on a distinct resonance. In effect, Kirkegaard has recorded the voices of rooms.
In Wellenwanne lfo (2000/2012), a work that features sound waves traveling through water, Carsten Nicolai (German, b. 1965) demonstrates the impossibility of achieving true silence. Rippling through the piece are visualizations of inaudible, low-frequency sound waves. Through the shifting, concentric patterns on the water’s surface, the piece renders visible what would otherwise exist beyond our range of perception.
Susan Philipsz’s (Scottish, b. 1965) Study for Strings is a contemporary interpretation of an eponymous 1943 orchestral work by Pavel Haas, who composed the score for 24 instruments while imprisoned in a concentration camp. For her 2012 reworking, Philipsz has isolated only the viola and cello parts. Recorded onto multiple channels, the piece is a note-by-note deconstruction of the original composition, replete with fraught silence. These absences call attention to the fact that other instruments—and the musicians who played them—are absent.
Haroon Mirza’s Frame for a Painting (1972) literally revolves around Piet Mondrian's Composition in Yellow, Blue, and White, I (1937), a painting in MoMA's collection. Mirza’s "framing" devices are many: not only does he physically frame the chosen painting in shifting LED lights and a synced electronic soundtrack, but he also ensconces it in a conceptually and temporally nuanced situation, juxtaposed with a modernist Danish side table. Mirza’s reframing serves to honor themes already evident in Mondrian's painting. The result is a profound and celebratory study of the particularities of color, material, and rhythm—that underscores the distinct pleasures and idiosyncrasies of sensory interplay.
For Music while We Work (2011), Hong-Kai Wang (Taiwanese, b. 1971) assembled a group of retired workers from a Taiwanese sugar refinery. She and her collaborator, Chen Bo-We, led a series of recording workshops for the retirees and their spouses. They then returned to the factory, where Wang asked them to “paint a world composed by their listening.” The video installation is a document both of their collective learning process and of the resulting compositions.
To create Ultrafield (2013), Jana Winderen (Norwegian, b. 1965) worked with sounds in the ultrasound range—above human hearing capacity—in which many mammal and insect species communicate. The artist recorded the sounds made by certain species of bats, fish, and underwater insects, and pitched these transmissions down to the human range, allowing humans to experience sonic realities that are otherwise out of reach.
The exhibition concludes with Florian Hecker’s (German, b. 1975) Affordance (2013), on view in MoMA’s Bauhaus Staircase between the second and third floors. The work investigates the 3subjective dimensions of sound with a three-channel sound piece that shifts and varies depending on the listener, both in terms of their physical location and their personal biases and points of reference.
The exhibition is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.
Major support is provided by Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), Richard J. Massey Foundation for Arts and Sciences, and the Danish Arts Council Committee for International Visual Arts.
Additional funding is provided by the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.
Published in conjunction with MoMA’s first major exhibition of sound art, Soundings: A Contemporary Score investigates the ways in which some of the most innovative contemporary artists are working with sound today. The catalogue presents an overview essay by Barbara London, a recent history of sound art by Anne Hilde Neset, and sections on each of the 16 featured artists with a brief interview and installation shots, field photographs, and documentation of performances. 8 x 10", 84 pages, 61 illustrations. Paperback, $18.95. Published by The Museum of Modern Art and available at MoMA Stores and MoMAStore.org. Distributed to the trade through ARTBOOK|D.A.P. in the United States and Canada, and by Thames & Hudson outside the United States and Canada.
Soundings: A Contemporary Score, the Film Program
August 14–19, 2013, The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
Held in conjunction with the gallery exhibition Soundings: A Contemporary Score, this series is as much an exploration of sound as of the moving image, focusing on documentary and “essay” films that take viewers to unusual sonic realms. For full details and schedule, please see the programs press release or visit MoMA.org/film.
The MoMA Nights 2013 music series includes weekly concerts related to Soundings, featuring experimental music and sound works by pioneering composer Pauline Oliveros and by three artists in the exhibition: Camille Norment, Stephen Vitiello, and Tristan Perich. For more information, please see the programs press release or visit MoMA.org.
The exhibition is accompanied by a website featuring images of selected works from the exhibition and audio from the artists. The site also features "What Do You Hear?" For this feature, the Museum’s Web audience is invited to share a 30-second "sonic moment" from their everyday experience, which will be uploaded to Soundcloud. Via geolocation, the recordings are tied to a map so visitors can see where in the world the recordings were created. The site launches in preview on July 31, 2013, at MoMA.org/soundings.
MoMA Studio: Sound in Space
October 3–November 24, 2013
Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and Fridays, 1:00-8:00 p.m.
Mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
In conjunction with the exhibition Soundings: A Contemporary Score, MoMA Studio: Sound in Space is an interactive space open to all ages that explores sound as a material and as a spatial, sensory, immersive experience. Visitors are not just viewers but listeners who activate their experience through their awareness of the interplay between environment and sound. The Studio offers drop-in activities and workshops, talks with collaborating artists, and a range of interactive artists’ projects that explore how the innovations of technology and the re-envisioning of our own physical ability to make sound change the way we communicate and find creative expression. Participating artists include Christine Sun Kim, Joe McKay, Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, Carmen Papalia, and Scott Snibbe.
MoMA Studio is made possible by a partnership with Volkswagen of America.
Listening In: The Social Space of Sound
Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
This related program addresses the materiality of sound: the ways in which sound can shape our physical, collective, and social experiences; our framework for understanding our environments; and how the medium of sound is particularly positioned to challenge familiar ways of thinking. Participants include Philip Brophy, writer, composer, and film director; Christoph Cox, Professor of Philosophy, Hampshire College, and a faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College; Branden Joseph, Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University; and Johanna Fateman, musician, writer, record producer, and member of the band Le Tigre. Moderated by Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, and organizer of the exhibition.
RELATED ONLINE COURSE:
A new online course beginning in October 2013 traces 50 years of multimedia art at MoMA.
Catalysts: Artists Creating with Sound, Video, and Time is a six-week course taught by media artist and scholar Randall Packer, who has gathered rare, archival materials and performance documents from landmark exhibitions of avant-garde performance, video, and sound art, as well as media installations and Internet art. Key media works by artists, including Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Marina Abramović, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, and Joan Jonas, will be streamed into MoMA’s online classroom for the purposes of this course. Weekly themes are presented in roughly chronological order, beginning with “Art and Engineering,” in which D. A. Pennebaker’s original film from 1960 documents how Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York destroyed itself in the MoMA Sculpture Garden, and ending with selections from the groundbreaking exhibition Talk to Me, featuring interactive projects and artworks that underscore our changing relationship with technology. MoMA curators Paola Antonelli, Klaus Biesenbach, and Barbara London, along with art critics and artists, share their views on the importance of these media-based works in behind-the-scenes interviews conducted by Packer. The week devoted to sound art features Ms. London interviewing Soundings artists. Students will be practicing media creation skills as they are learning: each week offers a DIY project to complete and discuss with fellow students. Further information about all of MOMA’s online courses is available online at MoMA.org/coursesonline; registration for fall courses, including Catalysts will begin August 7, 2013.
Online Courses are made possible by a partnership with Volkswagen of America.
MoMA TO HOST SERIES OF PROGRAMS AND EVENTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH SOUNDINGS: A CONTEMPORARY SCORE MoMA NIGHTS:
The MoMA Nights 2013 music series includes concerts related to Soundings, featuring experimental music and sound works. For more information, please visit MoMA.org.
MoMA Nights with Pauline Oliveros
Pauline Oliveros: What’s the Score?
Thursday, August 1, 5:30–8:00 p.m., The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden
Pauline Oliveros will improvise What’s the Score? Playing the Roland V Accordion, she will elaborate the play-on-words of her title into an array of volatile, gestural, changing sounds and sound qualities. Oliveros invites the audience to score a sound from her improvisation during the performance by representing it on a card with pencil or pen. A sound might consist of a single note, chord, cluster, or noise heard at any time during the piece, and represented by a drawing, graphic, or word. The cards with the audience scoring of the sounds will be collected and organized into a new score for a future performance. Oliveros (b. 1932) has influenced American music decisively in a career spanning more than 60 years as a composer, performer, author, and philosopher. She pioneered the concept of Deep Listening, her practice based on principles of improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching, and meditation, designed to inspire both trained and untrained musicians to practice the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions in solo and ensemble situations
MoMA Nights with Camille Norment and Stephen Vitiello
Camille Norment and Stephen Vitiello: Shards
Thursday, August 8, 5:30–8:00 p.m., The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden
Camille Norment and Stephen Vitiello come together in a unique musical performance created for Soundings. They take glass as the central source and focus for their score and instrumentation. Glass bells, glass marimba, glass armonica, sand, water, and associated mediums are used both for their own resonant properties and as materials moving fluidly in analog and digital realms. From sand to crystal to digital technology, ethereal beauty and dissonance meet the concreteness of the contemporary soundscape. Norment’s work spans sculpture, sound, architecture, and performance, and often evokes the uncanny by manipulating common experiences. Vitiello’s primary mediums are electronic music and sound installations.
MoMA Nights with Tristan Perich and Meehan/Perkins Duo
Tristan Perich: Parallels with Meehan/Perkins Duo
Thursday, August 15, 5:30–8:00 p.m., The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden
Tristan Perich’s Parallels explores the nature of pitched and unpitched percussive sounds combined with pure tones and white noise from his custom-designed electronics. A dense, patterned cascade of sounds, the piece is Perich’s first to combine order and randomness in the programming of one-bit waveforms. Commissioned by the Meehan/Perkins Duo, the piece draws on Perich’s exploration of digital and analog randomness in his Microtonal Wall, on view in Soundings. Perich’s work is inspired by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics, and code. His 2004 release 1-Bit Music was the first album ever released as a microchip, programmed to synthesize his electronic composition live; it was followed by 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010).Founded in 2006, the Meehan/Perkins Duo is dedicated to creating a new body of work for percussion duo, Todd Meehan and Doug Perkins have collaborated with the composers David Lang and Paul Lansky, among others, and have shared the music with audiences throughout the country and abroad
Soundings: A Contemporary Score, the Film Program
August 14–19, The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
Held in conjunction with the gallery exhibition Soundings: A Contemporary Score, this series is as much an exploration of sound as of the moving image, focusing on documentary and “essay” films that take viewers to unusual sonic realms. For Evaporated Music, Philip Brophy composed alien sounds that perfectly match well-known performers’ movements and vocalizations culled from pre-existing imagery. Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s Until the Light Takes Us explores the Norwegian black metal scene. Alfredo Jaar’s Muxima is a visual lamentation in the form of cantos dedicated to the people of Angola. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Fucked Up Lover, in which 12 friends describe specially made mix tapes, is presented with their video for Nick Cave’s "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!" Luke Fowler’s programs reveal how he regularly collaborates with sound artists to examine time-based alliances. Organized by Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.
Evaporated Music (parts 1 and 2). 2000–04/06. Australia. Directed by Philip Brophy. 56 min.
Wednesday, August 14, at 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Muxima, 2005. USA. Directed by Alfredo Jaar. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, New York. 36 min.
Dig, Lazarus, Dig! 2008. Great Britain. Directed by Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard. Music by Nick Cave. 4 min.
Fucked Up Lover. 2001. New Zealand. Directed by Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard. 30 min.
Wednesday, August 14, at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 17, at 4:00 p.m.
Until the Light Takes Us. 2009. USA. Directed by Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell. 93 min.
Friday, August 16, at 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 18, at 5:00 p.m.
A Grammar for Listening (parts 1–3). 2009. Great Britain. Directed by Luke Fowler. Sound by Lee Patterson, Eric la Casa, Toshiya Tsunoda. 56 min.
Tenement Films. 2009. Great Britain. Directed by Luke Fowler. Sound by Lee Patterson, Toshiya Tsunoda, Taku Unami, Charles Curtis. 9 min.
Friday, August 16, at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 18, at 2:00 p.m.
The Way Out. 2003. Great Britain. Directed by Luke Fowler, Kosten Koper. 33 min.
Pilgrimage from Scattered Points, 2006. Great Britain. Directed by Luke Fowler. 45 min.
Saturday, August 17, at 1:30 p.m.
Monday, August 19, at 4:00 p.m.
PopRally Presents: cyclo.id
Sunday, October 6, 8:00 p.m., The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby
PopRally presents the premiere U.S. performance of cyclo., the collaborative project of artists and composers Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai. On the occasion of MoMA’s first major exhibition of sound art, Soundings, in which Nicolai is a featured artist, the duo stages a performance, entitled cyclo.id, focusing on their shared interest in the visualization of sound. Collaborating since 1999, cyclo.’s work is manifested through live performances, CDs, books, and ongoing research. At MoMA, visitors will be immersed in a multisensory concert experience during which cyclo. will perform against a backdrop of vibrant, ever-shifting visualizations generated by real-time sound analysis. Guests enjoy a cocktail reception and exclusive access to Soundings after Museum hours. Here, guests can draw a connection between cyclo.’s performance and Nicolai’s installation, wellenwanne lfo (2012), in which sound waves are amplified through water, resulting in regular interference patterns. Tickets will be available online through MoMA.org.
Building upon the Museum's long tradition of exploring cinematic experimentation, Modern Mondays is a showcase for innovation on screen. Visitors can engage with contemporary filmmakers, moving image, performance and sound artists, and rediscover landmark works that changed the way we experience film and media. Organized by the Department of Film and the Department of Media and Performance Art. Modern Mondays is supported in part by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
An Evening with Christine Sun Kim
Monday, October 7, 7:00 p.m., The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
Christine Sun Kim is a sound artist and performer living and working in New York, NY. She holds MFA degrees from Bard College and the School of Visual Arts and has shown her work nationally and internationally. Despite being a relatively young artist, she has received numerous awards and acknowledgements throughout her career. In conjunction with Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Sun Kim will expound on her Score and Transcripts series of drawings and videos, and discuss how these projects have acted as a point of trajectory towards her working with sound as a form of artistic and personal expression.
Image: Jana Winderen. Disco Bay. 2007. Field photograph, Greenland. Courtesy the artist
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Press Preview: Wednesday, July 31, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
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