A day trip to Dia:Beacon one early autumn afternoon unearthed from my art historical vault 1960s era Minimalism that conceptually critiqued the commodified art world. However, it was not the gargantuan “Torqued Ellipses” by Richard Serra that stuck it to the man—his work is sold by world-renowned powerhouse Gagosian Gallery—but the cackling faux-bird audio “Birdcalls” (1972/1981) by pioneer sound artist Louise Lawler resonating throughout the cherry blossom west garden that really put the art market in a quandary. Trending this month in Bushwick artists continue to investigate the ear over the eye. Stop, collaborate and listen as Sound Art takes center stage transforming art into aural adventures.
Sound emerges from a triad of performers navigating an immense interior flanked by two large concave cement sculptures in Tim Bruniges’s “Mirrors.” Three performers on the saxophone, bass and trumpet play atonal notes as they glide throughout the stage. A microphone in the center of each sound mirror picks up the ambient sounds in the gallery and feed them into infinite loops. Signal’s vast exhibition space resonates with sound art. Its minimalist warehouse rotunda reverberates similarly to an echo in a wind tunnel. As if exerting a bellowing cry from one end of an expansive—yet enclosed—space, noise gently echoes until silence once again overcomes.
Like the rippling waves of a skipping rock, sound repeats itself as it bounces between Bruniges’s monolithic “Mirrors.” Melody is overcome by dissonance as sweet sounds of disparate notes coalesce into a score far from the conventional forms of harmony. Viewers are encouraged to tap into their inner wanderlust and circumnavigate the performance space to hear the tonal variations between locations.
Sound and Visual Art coincide as artist Gilbert Hsiao’s “Hit Parade” repurposes the antiquated—yet much loved—record player in a participatory spectacle for the ears and eyes. Hsiao creates a day glo atmosphere boasting a mellowed 1980s VIP scene inviting viewers to be the DJs by adding or subtracting disks to switch up nuanced beats.
Amidst black lights in a darkened room, neon painted record players spin ambient sounds from multicolored disks. Sounds created are quiet murmurs, scratches and hiccups reminiscent of a record’s end when the needle circles the last grooves before the player kicks it back to its holding pin. Viewers become conductors to create a new-age symphony of electronic notes.
Sound accompanied Lendvay and Ting’s pairing of minimalist painting and mixed media sculptures as saxophonist Zuriel Waters serenaded gallery-goers with an original score inspired by the show on Bushwick Beat Nite. The visual and aural coincided as Waters belted smooth melodies from a corner in the basement gallery space. His harmonic notes echoed through the white walls and accentuated the theme of the show inspired by an artist’s intimate bond with creation while working alone in the studio.
If the 2013 exhibition “Soundings: A Contemporary Score” at the high-brow Museum of Modern Art is not an indicator of Sound Art’s rank, then perusing the galleries of Bushwick will further ensue its rising placement in the canon of contemporary art. Notes emerging from itinerant instruments, noise emitting from music players, or original scores accompanying visual art are the many variations of Sound Art vibrating through the walls of Bushwick galleries. Whether accompanying film, video, installations, and sculptures, or existing on its own in an instrumental performance, Sound Art resonates this early Spring—and its not looking to be muted any time soon.