Lawrence Kumpf, the curator of Brooklyn’s experimental music venue Issue Project Room, and Justin Luke, the director of the East Village gallery Audio Visual Arts, organized this venturesome show of art that is made with—or deals with the uses and abuses of—sound. Brimming with subtle, sometimes tricky work by emerging artists, it’s a handy and worthy accompaniment to MoMA’s just-opened “Soundings” exhibition, which tends toward mostly larger works by slightly more established artists (fame being a relative thing in the audio art world).
A few works here are bit too conceptually cute (Dave Dyment’s power strip of electronic pest-control devices dedicated to the master of the empty gallery, Robert Barry, for one), but the good far outweighs the mediocre. Highlights include Matthieu Saladin’s table with an endlessly spinning €1 coin (a motor underneath keeps it going), bewitching lenticular prints by Marina Rosenfeld of hands wielding a violin and bow, the diptych of panels into which James Hoff has carved and spelled out a greeting with an audio cable and C. Spencer Yeh’s admirably harebrained instructions for pieces. (“Find neighboring bars. Drill a hole in the shared wall and switch the output leads of the respective jukeboxes.”)
Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Conflicted Phonemes (2012) delivers a chilling lesson in the political value of sound in diagrams that explain how immigration authorities analyze speech to authenticate the claims of people applying for asylum. On a related note, Alan Licht has hung four decibel meters with sizable microphones throughout the gallery. Though this 2013 piece is innocuously titled How Loud Is This (Gallery)? (around 57 decibels on my visit one weekday morning), one may find it hard to shake its very direct reminder that we are all regularly being listened in on.
(Through Aug. 28, 2013)