At the Moment of Being Heard

0aquaphonemuse.jpgBaudouin Oosterlynck, Aquaphone Cornemuse Opus 143, 2001. Photo © Leopold Oosterlynck
The photo above lured me to take the train to Peckham Rye and visit the South London Gallery. The image is the one relentlessly featured in the online mags announcing At the Moment of Being Heard, a show of works and performances that reflect on sound and modes of listening.
Sadly, Aquaphone Cornemuse Opus 143 is not presented in the exhibition. But in case you were still curious about it, the Aquaphone is part of a series of ‘instruments d’écoute’ (instruments for listening) made with glass objects used by chemists. The Aquaphone works in closed circuit to amplify tiny sound phenomenons. The glass element is partly filled with water and with air that acts as sound transmitter.
Even if the Aquaphone Cornemuse Opus 143 is not part of the exhibition, it still embodies accurately the tone and character of the show. At the Moment of Being Heard is the quietest exhibition about sound i’ve ever visited. You hear salt being slowly poured, speakers quietly growling, piano strings being struck, shutters falling down echoing inside your head only. At times, you might even hear silence as well.
0Eli-Keszler.jpgEli Keszler performing at the SLG in front of NEUM. Photo SLG
0a0EfilsK5.jpgEli Keszler, NEUM, 2013. Photo SLG
P1240573.jpgEli Keszler, NEUM, 2013 (detail)
P1240574.jpgEli Keszler, NEUM, 2013 (detail)
Tuned piano wires stretches all over to the ceiling in criss-cross patterns. The wires of Eli Keszler’s installation are periodically struck and scraped by mechanical beaters to deliver deep and resonating sounds that reverberate through the main gallery. The result being quieter and much more harmonious than my description would have you believe.
0crys-cole.jpg0asalty535511289_n.jpgcrys cole, Filling a Space with Salt (in two parts), 2013. Photo SLG
crys cole‘s sound sculpture lays nearby and unassumingly within the gallery floor’s vents. One part of the work is a small heap of salt that fills the vent in the left corner of the room. Its counterpart is located in the vent at the other side of the space, but this time there is nothing to see, if you bend down slightly you can hear the sound of the slow action (it took 108 minutes) of filling the first space with salt.
0Reiner-Ruthenbeck.jpgReiner Ruthenbeck, Rollo, Geräuschobjekt Nr. 3, 1978
Filling a Space with Salt (in two parts) nicely echoes a photo by Reiner Ruthenbeck showing a lady closing the shutters outside a gallery. The black and white photo elicits the loud clang of the shutters inside you head, even if nothing in the room is actually making that sound.
0detaluroldjuliusrl.jpgRolf Julius, Singing, 2000 (detail). Photo SLG
0auroldfjuliusrl.jpgRolf Julius, Singing, 2000. Installation view at the SLG. Photo SLG
Singing, by Rolf Julius, is made of seven suspended speakers which emanate a low, resonant hum. The vibrations in the cones cause sieved black pigment on the membranes to shift in sync with the quiet composition.
At the Moment of Being Heard is a nice, subtle, almost meditative show where i spent more time than expected. It reminded me that i love sound art as much as i dislike writing about it. Speaking of which…. I’ve only blogged about the pieces in the main gallery but there’s more works upstairs: Baudouin Oosterlynck’s score-drawings made over journeys in Europe in search of silence, Rolf Julius’ curious videos of upturned speaker cones submerged in ash and a lonely and almost undetectable speaker playing an outdoor rural Summer soundscape.
0oa4table1_2.jpgBaudouin Oosterlynck, Variations of Silence, 1990-1991. Photo SLG
At the Moment of Being Heard doesn’t stop there. Live performances and special events run until September at the SLG and also at nearby off-site venues. This one looked good, i’m sorry i missed it:
0a10tomwhite_1290733754_n.jpg0tomwhite_1720197147_n.jpgTom White, Public Address, installation shots, Southampton Way estate, 2013. Photo Ollie Hammick for SLG
At the Moment of Being Heard is on view at the South London Gallery until 8 September.