This season at the Artist’s Institute we’re investigating the circulation of sounds, bodies, energy, power, and fluids. Marina Rosenfeld, Tauba Auerbach, and Alvin Lucier present dynamic sculptures and platforms that modulate protean substances: voices, soap film, and vibrating granules.
These flows operate at every level and scale, from the microscopic to the cosmic. Auerbach burrows into the connective tissues in the body and the movement of currents within them, simultaneously asking if and how a coordinated flow could bring matter to life. But she sees these as mirroring structures found everywhere in the world, from DNA molecules to architectural forms. As in the pioneering work of Alvin Lucier, Rosenfeld is interested in how sounds and bodies circulate in spaces; but she’s also keenly attentive to their social, political, and gendered valences: to who speaks and how; to the way that objects and bodies absorb and reflect noises; and to recorded and recursive sounds that unsettle the self.
In her project for the Artist’s Institute, Rosenfeld pays homage to her erstwhile colleague, the pioneering sound artist Maryanne Amacher, who populated large-scale site-specific installations with “sound characters” or “soundshapes” that appeared and interacted with one another like characters in a TV series. Rosenfeld, too, projects spectral sound shapes to which she alludes via a collection of photographic images. This sensory crossover is precisely the subject of Lucier’s The Queen of the South, which shows how sound can generate vibratory visual forms that are strikingly akin to the Shipibo textile patterns that inspire Auerbach.
Taken together, these projects reveal patterns, forces, and processes that are isomorphic across the physical, chemical, biological, social, political, architectural, musical, and visual domains. These similarities prompt us to challenge the opposition between the natural and the cultural but also to track the differences that distinguish one domain from another and that define each particular field.
This season is organized with philosopher Christoph Cox, whose new book Sonic Flux considers sound as a material flow that precedes and exceeds human expression.