The first two students in the newly-established Sound Arts MFA program, Carla Cisno and Nolan Lem, presented their work in the First Year Show, at Prentis Hall, from May 4-12, 2014. The works presented were What is all (2014) by Cisno, and Dice Roll (2014) by Lem.
Video clip at this link (please note that the audio is ambient room sound, and not part of the piece).
Cisno’s piece What is all was presented in two spaces: in a smaller room, an aluminum tray of water was activated by a low-frequency analog oscillator, connected to the tray via tactile transducers. The low-frequency oscillator, nominally set to a steady state at 50 Hz (but as the artist pointed out, being vintage analog equipment, drifting somewhat around that frequency) transmitted vibrations into the pan of water, causing wave-like ripples throughout the liquid. A cool-colored beam of light was positioned above the tray, illuminating both tray and liquid (the image above shows the artist near this installation). Video of the tray and water were captured, and projected in two places: on the wall of the small dark room containing the tray, and, transmitted live via HDMI, to a larger separate room, in a floor-to-ceiling display. One interesting feature of her piece was that the sound is not heard directly (but can be felt when touching the table holding the tray), but rather, is seen in its effect on the liquid and light.
Video clip of Dice Roll at this link.
Lem’s Dice Roll was installed in a single rectangular room, with the piece lit from below, casting shadows on the walls of the semi-darkened space (see artist in front of work in image at top of page). Lem’s piece featured 3 large rectangular frames, with rows of mounted motors, activating thin lines supporting dice. The dice, when at rest, sat on a bed of pieces of wood, of varying lengths, arranged for their sonic properties. When activated, the dice rolled and bounced against the pieces of wood, producing a variety of organic-sounding effects. Different textures were in evidence over time, without forming any large discernible structural patterns.
The artists both spoke in a panel at the closing reception, discussing their work with Douglas Repetto, Director of the Sound Arts program, and Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator of the Wallach Art Gallery. There was a lively discussion, which touched on issues including ideas about the definition of sound art, ideas about form, approaches to the sense of time in their work, the creative process, and documentation and preservation issues for sound art pieces.
The Music & Arts Library actively supports the work of the Sound Arts program, by acquisitions of books, journals, and recordings, as well as the resources of the Digital Music Lab. We eagerly look forward to seeing the next exhibition of work by this group and the new incoming cohort (an additional 4 artists) in Fall 2014!