At the moment of being heard brings together works and performances by a group of international artists, musicians and composers engaging with sound and modes of listening. Installed throughout the galleries and the connecting spaces the exhibition is presented in parallel with a series of live performances and special events, both at the SLG and at nearby off-site venues as part of SLG Local.
Works by artists crys cole, Rolf Julius, Eli Keszler and Reiner Ruthenbeck occupy the main gallery space, each piece placing an emphasis on the act and intimacy of listening, whilst encouraging a heightened awareness of our relationship to their architectural settings. Singing 2000, by the late sound-art pioneer Rolf Julius, incorporates seven suspended speakers which appear to hover in the room, their upward-pointing diaphragms emanating a low, resonant hum.
The resulting vibrations in the cones cause sieved black pigment on the membranes to gently shift in sync with the quiet, fragile composition. This use of processed natural and instrumental sounds to draw attention to materials and their intrinsic properties, and an interaction between aural and visual components, characterised Julius’s work throughout his career, from the 1970s until his death in 2011. Shown alongside Singing are black and white works from Julius’s Ecken (Corners) series, photographic studies of corners of rooms, and Five Red, a large painted ‘dot’ score from 2007.
Also in the main gallery, Canadian artist crys cole presents two unique sound compositions that are both created and located in heating vents beneath the floorboards, amplified through a mono speaker at a low, discreet volume. Guided by a fascination with microsonics, cole’s approach to sound emphasises subtlety and discretion, focusing on the texture and delicacy of minimal sonic environments. New York-based artist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Eli Keszler’s work has a more impactful visual presence, his newly commissioned piece criss-crossing the gallery walls in a twisting geometric shape. Its stretched and tuned piano wires are periodically struck and scraped by mechanical beaters to deliver deep and resonating sounds cutting across the other works in the room and momentarily lingering as our ears gradually re-acclimatise to the room.
Acting as a metronomic accent in a room of otherwise subtle sounds, the context of Keszler’s installation brings to mind a quote from an interview with Rolf Julius in 1994:
N: 'Emptiness’ is one of your key words, isn’t it?
J: Japanese gardens, for example, have a unique use of space. When I went to a garden in Okayama, a crane landed and suddenly cried very loud. Then I understood the beauty of Japanese gardens. I was surprised that a sound like that could exist. And then the silence afterwards: in complete harmony with the space. - Shin Nakagawa interviews Rolf Julius for the catalogue produced for Julius’ solo show Ilmaa, air, at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.
Reiner Ruthenbeck’s Geräuscharbeiten (Noise Works) series captured the moment noise arises in daily life, without actually making a sound. The photograph Geräuschstück / Rolladen, 1978 shows an Italian gallerist closing the shutters outside her gallery and conjures the distinct metalon- metal reverberation.
Located within the connecting spaces of the SLG’s building, as well as off-site, are multiple iterations of Swedish composer, writer, performer and conceptual artist Leif Elggren’s ongoing project, an annexation of the colours yellow and black. For this work, initiated in 1977, Elggren finds counterparts in municipal signage, using a colour combination which is traditionally used to express danger or to demarcate a border, and re-appropriates them. These works are accompanied by a vitrine in the entrance corridor, containing a publication and ephemera relating to the project.
In the first floor galleries, works by Baudouin Oosterlynck, an avant-garde figure in the field of sound art and modes of listening since the 1970s, are presented in the UK for the first time. Variations of Silence, 1990-1991, are a series of score-drawings which were the result of ten journeys made by the artist, by train, on foot and by bicycle through five countries in Europe, in search of sites and places where moments of silence can be experienced. Interested in the relations between the body, space, sound and silence, Oosterlynck’s practice has, since the early 1990s, largely focused on works that take the form of acoustic prostheses, drawn scores and "listening aids" that emphasize the relationship between silence and sound.“
Also in the first floor galleries is a three-screen video work, entitled Volcanoes II, 2010, by Rolf Julius. Each screen plays looped films of upturned speaker cones partially submerged in ash, whilst a low-volume, high-pitched whirring sound resonates from the three built-in speakers, but the sound is not synchronized with the image. The ash moves abruptly on the cones with pauses in-between, mimicking their geological namesake.
The installation works by Julius are complemented by a performance, entitled Blue Yellow Red, with artist and dancer Junko Wada with artists and composers Miki Yui and Rie Nakajima, that has its origins in earlier, individual collaborations and dialogues between the artists and Julius, taking place on Sunday 28 July in the gardens of the gallery.
To accompany the exhibited works is a parallel programme of performances, special events and installations, presented both at the gallery and off-site as part of SLG Local featuring: Tom White, Tetsuya Umeda, Baudouin Oosterlynck, La Cellule d'Intervention Metamkine, Junko Wada with Miki Yui and Rie Nakajima, Henning Christiansen, Barby Asante, Marina Rosenfeld and Marginal Consort.