Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Every Sound You Can Imagine

Every Sound You Can Imagine
New Langton Arts

I found out about this exhibition from a post on The Standing Room, which in turn led me to this blog entry, which provides a great peek into the show. I'd never been to New Langton Arts before, & I walked right by their nondescript entrance on Folsom Street this afternoon at least once before I found the upstairs gallery.

This exhibit explores the visualization of music & is made up of contemporary musical scores, largely from the collection of Robert Harshorn Shimshak. At a minimum, each of the works has to solve the problem of mapping the dimension of time onto a sheet of paper. A wide range of ideas is on display, from traditionally notated manuscripts, to experimental notation systems, to conceptual pieces & even games. Some of the pieces, such as Alison Knowles's Onion Skin Song, work nicely as visual art, but I can't imagine how one performs them.

Many famous names in 20th century music are represented, including Philip Glass, John Adams, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman & John Cage. I liked the page from George Crumb's Macrokosmos in which the parts are arranged in the shape of a peace sign. I also liked Douglas Hollis's conceptual piece for Scored Road, in which ridges or grooves set at precise intervals on a road create pitches in the cars which drive over them. What a great way to improve a long, boring car ride!

The works are on display through March 28th.

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