American Contemporary is thrilled to announce a two-part installation by renowned sound artist Stephen Vitiello. The exhibition will pair together a major early work, Frogs in Feedback (2002), and a new sculptural sound installation Gain and Lift (2014).
Frogs in Feedback is a kinetic sound sculpture involving a suspended, working microphone circling a speaker mounted on the floor. The resulting interaction produces a melancholic and morphing poem of feedback tempered by an analog ring modulator. Visually, the piece references Steve Reich’s iconic composition Pendulum Music. Where Reich's piece involves multiple speakers and microphones, and is intended for performance, Vitiello's work is more localized and organic. Despite the fact no frogs were used in this piece and it often disappears into complete abstraction, the sculpture has a mortal presence in the space.
The second work revisits Vitiello's suspended speaker works, which process low frequencies of sound to create three-dimensional scores. The freed speakers are suspended by wires, which hold them gently in the air allowing them to move. The installation utilizes four channels, sixteen 6.25" speakers and the flutter of hummingbirds recorded at Mountain Lake Biological Station, Pembroke in the Appalachian mountains. The playback features only the lowest frequencies, causing movement to the surfaces of the speakers while remaining below the threshold of human hearing. The score is created through a process of transformation, rather than layering the material onto a chromatic scale.
The two works function as almost perfect opposites. One creates something wild and organic from seemingly nothing, and the other condenses the organic to a beautiful, minimal four-dimensional installation. In Vitiello’s work sound lives a complete existence. It is not about isolated moments, the honking of a horn, a piece of music, but instead a visceral reality in actual space and time. In these works form and sound endure harmoniously and in conflict like two magnets; four alternate poles attracting and repelling to allow a sonic and physical flow of change, resistance and connection.
Vitiello's recent projects include the First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, Fruits of Captiva, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York, NY, Silence, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA/The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, Electro-dynamic Drawings, Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington, Seattle, WA and he currently has a a site-specific piece at Caramoor in Westchester, NY through Nov. 2. He will have an exhibition and performance at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Dec 8-18 and is working on a major permanent commission for the Seattle Waterfront at Elliot Bay. Vitiello is Professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. His work was recently included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Morgan Library and the Smithsonian Institution.