At first glance, Jennie C. Jones’ exhibit “Absorb/Diffuse,” which debuted at The Kitchen last night, looks a bit like a super-hip stereo store. The Minimalist “Acoustic Paintings” hanging on the wall are constructed of sound-absorbing material, the kind of panels one sees in a recording studio, that project a feeling of both sterility and warmth. Out of the context of the recording studio, one’s attention is drawn to the fact that, despite being sound-absorbing, they actually look very much like speakers. Hip, flat speakers. Bang & Olufsen, maybe?
Tying all this together are a series of rumblings from a dual stereo in the corner, a piece called From the Low that pulls from diverse sources like Charles Mingus, The XX, and Sergei Prokofiev to make a dark soundtrack for the room.
“I refer to it as micro-sampling,” Ms. Jones told The Observer. “Creating a pulse by stringing together repeating individual beats from one sample. There’s one note from Bach, that’s one half of a note from Jaws, stretched from tempo so that there’s this ominous breathing in and out. There are cultural reference points, but the point was to — outside of DJ culture — address the low end to talk about low frequency and to re-contextualize it within the framework of art history.”
“I’m always working with sound,” she added. “But it’s the first time there’s a direct interface with the 2-d work because it’s actually affecting the sound in the room.”
Matthew Lyons, who curated the show was behind the desk at the entrance (“I tend to end up here during openings”) and said the low frequencies unified the exhibit in his mind.
“For doing something at The Kitchen, with our capabilities in presenting audio work, she wanted to take advantage of that,” Mr. Lyons said. “If you come back during the day, when it’s not the opening, the audio is very palpable.”
Mr. Lyons also curated the second show of the evening, in the second section of the room, “The Stars Below” by Joe Winter. The main portion of that exhibit features a mock classroom, with a fake porous ceiling that drips water onto erect pieces of chalk mounted to desks of slate. At the front of this classroom a dry erase board has been made to look like it holds the compressed remains of a dead planet.
The title of the show, Mr. Winter explained, comes from an Ursula K. Le Guin story in which a scientist turns his telescope at his own planet.
“There’s the scientific way of looking at the world and then there’s the institutional way of looking at the world,” Mr. Winter said. “And I think that they’re related in the way that they to organize space and time so you have astronomy and cosmology and geology, which are these profoundly deep kinds of concerns and engagements, and then you have the classroom or office, which are these much more non-romantic quotidian ways of organizing space and time. That’s kind of the end point of the game.”