Visiting and then reflecting on McRea’s exhibition, Body Architect seems an appropriate way to finish the semester. Walking through the show, I was overwhelmed by the proficiency (for lack of a better word) of her practice. She makes the whole enterprise look so obvious! Find your subject matter and research the hell out if it. Find the formats which best convey this. Work to develop those into a highly original and sophisticated audio / visual language. Build on that language until you create a kind of world building meta-fiction. In doing this, Body Architect doesn’t bother with trying to uncover truth in the world, it accepts from the outset that truth is forged in the furnace of cultural experience.
On a more subdued note, how the work is presented was useful to consider in relation to my own project. All of the images (except one, which seemed comparatively naff) were presented on screens rather than as prints, giving the overall impression that these were being broadcast to us from multiple distant futures, rather than existing as real-world objects. Images unashamed of their own fiction.
McRea. L. (2019). Body Architect. [Exhibition]. Melbourne, Australia: NGV. 30 Aug 19 – 9 Feb 20.
I would say the most interesting element of Mirza’s show, The Construction of an Act – was the various ways the artist used the available space of the gallery. The challenges associated with sound in a white cube such as reverberation and bleed were here made integral to the works, all of which sounded continuously through an overlapping sequence across the three different rooms.
Following on from my post regarding Tacita Dean’s Foley Artist, Mirza’s work here also addresses the idea of a constructed sonic event, laying bare the mechanics of the audio’s own production. But what I found limiting about this show was how this idea of construction had nothing to push up against. A shower head spraying into a plastic garbage bin looked and sounded exactly like you would expect. The abrasive electric tones of an analogue synthesiser were mind-numbingly dull. Through the whole exhibition I was looking for a counterpoint, somewhere for a perceptive gap to open – instead, as a listener all I experienced was the sonic equivalent of single item venn diagram.
Mirza. H. (2019). The Construction Of An Act. [exhibition]. Melbourne, Australia: ACCA 14/09/2019 – 17/11/2019.
A recurring theme within my project has been that the body is (at least in part) is an effect of perception, intuited through the voice. At the very least it’s borders are porous and always shifting, rather than discrete and stable. In attempting to trace where this thinking originates, I have been reading the work of Jean Baudrillard which is relevant in its argument that representation (at least in our contemporary condition) precedes the real. That a perception of the real arises from a cascading series of untethered representations.
“Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.” (p. 3).
The voice as used within contemporary pop-music is a prime example, where it’s no longer arranged and mixed so as to refer to sense of real world performance and by extension – labor (breath is commonly removed all together), but instead only refers to other musical codes.
Baudrillard. J. (1983). The Procession of Simulacra. In: Art & Text (11). Translated by Paul Foss & Paul Patton. Melbourne, Australia: Art & Text pp. 3 – 47.
While I have no direct experience of this work (only a description from the Tate’s website), Tacita Dean’s Foley Artist interests me in the way it simultaneously offers representation, while also undermining that representation through a foregrounding of artifice. In particular, it was the detailed description of how the different components were spatialized within the gallery, suggesting that for this to be effective there needs to be some distance kept between the constructed experience and the mechanics of that constructed experience.
‘The artist intentionally prevents the foleys, working in real time on video, being viewed at the same time as the dubbing chart, a synthesis of sound production separated visually into its multi-track artificiality, by specifying that the video monitor and the light box should be mounted on opposite walls.‘ – tate.org.uk