Artists: Sophie Bueno-Boutellier, Manuel Burgener, Nina Canell & Robin Watkins, Cevdet Erek, Judith Fegerl, Bruno Jakob, Judith Kakon
Venue: Kunsthaus Glarus
Exhibition Title: White Noise
Date: May 17 – August 16, 2015
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Kunsthaus Glarus
In an age where all channels are broadcasting non-stop around the clock, the programming pause has become the exception. Gaps between channels, where sounds of static once marked the transition between shows or the end of the broadcasting day, are only rarely heard in the digital world. In today’s world of input and image overload, monotonous noise has even become a concept for serenity, silence, and emptiness. Downloadable white noise tracks promise better sleep, greater stress relief, and optimized concentration. In open space offices pink noise regulates disparate sounds, creating an atmosphere that is simultaneously serene and stimulating. Other colored noise tonalities, such as blue, green, gray, brown, and red noise, are audio concepts that are seen as having a comparable spectrum of varying qualities and influences on mental and visual perception in their referencing of colored light. Noise is characterized here as a chaotic superimposition of all frequencies into a neutral and primarily monotone ambient soundscape. Noise is generated in all frequency ranges, not just in the realm of sound, but also in light. It is a concept for both nothingness and an overwhelming everything – complete emptiness and absolute fullness at the same time.
In the history of art, the theme of the void, presented, for example, as a white canvas or as a piece of music absent of sound, has a long tradition. Countless concepts of religion, philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences have also sprung up around notions of the void and nothingness. In the process, absolute nothingness, the void, has remained a theoretical phenomenon. Most people equate the void with a lack of identifiable structures. To some extent, the void is created in the eye of the observer and in the ear of the listener. Here, where only a few places remain for the mind to affix to, the imagination fills up the vacuum.
This exhibition brings together artists who are interested in the invisible, the latent, and what cannot be depicted. Employing a wide range of means and approaches they reference the phenomenon of white noise. For them, this is partly about reduction and partly about doing away with the limits of form and content. They experiment with sound and color as well as soundlessness and non-color and they and incorporate electrical, acoustic, and imaginary energies. In multiple works, architecture and the exhibition space, the White Cube, play important roles as a neutral, ideal setting for the presentation of art as well as a space for reflection and feedback, or they address the mechanisms of control and the creative repurposing thereof in an age of omnipresent background noise and image overload.
Introductory texts on the artists are presented on the following pages in alphabetical order.
In her practice Sophie Bueno-Boutellier (*1974 Toulouse, France, lives and works in Berlin and Nice) employs primarily minimalist forms, simple materials, or what looks like monochrome painting, situating their constellations in relationship to the exhibition space and exploring the limits of painting, sculpture, and installations in the process. In her new paintings created specifically for the exhibition, Perceptible, Cobalt inconnu I-III (all 2015), she uses a spray technique that creates the look of monochrome painting, but which is actually the result of countless splatters and a print technique, which together produce subtle gradations of color and light, density and transparency. As an extension of these precisely installed paintings, she covers the entire floor surface of the Oberlichtsaal with a sound-absorbing PVC layer, which influences not only the atmosphere of the space acoustically, but also in terms of lighting and color. The color tones of the paintings and the sound absorption of the room reference the comparable ranges in frequency ascribed to both the colors and the sounds.
Manuel Burgener (*1978 Bern, lives in Burgdorf) usually works on-site and employs simple, available materials for room-specific installations, which also incorporate the open- ended process of their making on-site. For the exhibition in Glarus, he presents what appears on first view to be an interactive, self-contained, minimalist object that is made up of two nested boxes, but which, upon closer inspection, can be opened and activated by the public. Located inside are two bottles of self-distilled gin – the colorless spirit made from berries and herbs, which the artist picked near his studio and distilled into an indulgent beverage. The box also features a battery-operated LED light and a Bluetooth connection, which the public can activate – for instance via mobile phone – to play sound according to one’s liking. Here – much like a mobile sound system – the artist is interested in the ways in which the public creatively influences the perception of the entire exhibition space and the subversive ways in which they repurpose it, which he encourages with the object, but which is beyond his control.
The artistic practice of Nina Canell & Robin Watkins (*1979, Växjö / 1980, Stockholm, Sweden, live and work in Berlin) revolves around the invisible and imperceptible dimensions of reality. The duo (both also work individually, Canell as artist and Watkins as musician) employs technical means in experimenting with how to make things like energy currents, gravitation, sound or air perceptible or audible. At Kunsthaus Glarus they present Strays (2013), two FM radios each featuring an extended, chromed bronze antenna which on a visual level is designed to interfere with the clear reception of the radio signal, but does not transmit any sound.
Cevdet Erek (*1974 in Istanbul, lives and works in Istanbul) works with sound and rhythm, situating these elements in relationship to existing spaces and architecture. At Kunsthaus Glarus, Erek presents SSS Shore Scene Soundtrack (2012/15), an interactive sound work featuring a piece of carpet affixed to the wall reminiscent of monochrome painting. The public activ ates the work via stroking motions, which produce the soothing sounds of the ocean. The soothing sound is very similar to white noise, which is otherwise only produced synthetically.
In Judith Fegerl’s (*1977 in Vienna, lives and works in Vienna) artistic practice the exhibition space itself is subject of the work. She focuses exclusively on the space, exposing walls, floors, and the technical infrastructure behind it, thereby addressing the construction, functionality, and identity of spaces. In so doing, she is interested, in an analogy to the human body, in the interface between technology and body, technology and consciousness, inorganic and organic material, and a kind of “personalization” of spaces. At Glarus, the artist brands the Schneelisaal, whose perfect dimensions and White Cube neutrality provides the ideal backdrop for the presentation of art, with the drawing of a minimal line burned into the wall with a high voltage wire redirected and inserted just under the surface of the wall.
Bruno Jakob (*1954, born in Aarburg, lives and works in New York City) has taken a radical approach to addressing the limits of painting, what cannot be represented, the invisible and the white canvas since he started working as an artist in the late 1970s. His interest in the painting as an illusory space, as well as the titles and details regarding its making, also allow viewers to generate their own inner images. For the opening, he will present a performance, accompanied by Hans Witschi on piano, in which he uses invisible means, including water vapor, his imagination, and invisible paint and brush to paint in the air, while recording his actions with a digital camera at the same time. Different dimensions of time, actions, and perceptions overlap and combine fluently into an imaginary representation of reality. Another work titled Weisses Lächeln (2010) maps the energy currents, thoughts, and imaginary images occurring over a period of time in the exhibition space in an “invisible painting” on white canvas.
Judith Kakon (*1988 in Basel, lives and works in Basel and Tel Aviv) often works with industrially manufactured materials, including tarps, foils, and advertising media, which she transfers to the art context and reflects on their textures, surfaces, and functions. Going on her interest in mechanisms of control, display methods, and marketing strategies, she installs in the Seitenlichtsaal at Kunsthaus Glarus a reduced spatial intervention with reflective foil and LED-mirror surfaces. Reflective foil is used in corporate architecture in particular for visual monitoring through transparent glass surfaces. Applied to the window facades of the Seitenlichtsaal it controls the view to the outside, giving visitors a view of themselves instead of allowing them to look out at the greenery of the park. The artist activates the LED mirror with a self-programmed light choreography of white LED light.