Curated by Koan-Jeff Baysa
David Abir, William Anastasi, John Cage, Language Removal Services (LRS), Warren Neidlich, Atsushi Nishijima, Paul Pfeiffer (audio provided by LRS), Nadine Robinson, Stephen Sollins, Stephen Vitiello, Jeff Wyckoff, and John Des Marais
November 30 - December 29, 2002
The title of this exhibition, "One Hand Clapping" is taken from the classical zen riddle interrogating the nature of sound, existence, and nothingness. The show explores this pervasive and singular phenomenon, one which can be a subliminal background at times, yet at other times a potent trigger for memory and emotion.
The exhibition examines sound and language as well as its interstices: silences, pauses, breaths. The works chosen explore and link sound to issues of synchrony and discord, the literal and the metaphorical, the familiar and the alien. This commingling of nature and informatics occasionally results in a confusion of science and art, where one is trying to transform itself into the other, a movement which creates, in Deleuze's terms, neither sensation nor concept. Research of the amusias, (neurological disorders that can affect receptive and/or expressive musical function), provide evidence that musical processing is multimodal and more widely distributed in both cerebral hemispheres than previously thought. Sight has long been held as a higher sense than hearing, but people who have lost their sense of hearing have been arguably stereotyped as more agitated than people who have lost their sense of sight. This is attributed to the increased propensity for miscommunications by the hearing-impaired, who are deprived of the nuances of aural-based language skills and communication.
Sound's antipode, silence, is more a rhetorical than a physical situation. Even prior to delivery into the world, we are bombarded with a continuum of sounds. Research has demonstrated that infants discriminate sounds and perhaps learn while asleep. In an anechoic chamber one's ears feel stuffy and the mind disoriented in this soundless environment, with gradual awareness of one's own biogenic sounds: respirations and heartbeats.
"One Hand Clapping" looks to that diastole between sound that flags the vibrancy of life and silence that heralds the initiation of thought. Sound is no longer tied to a concept of composition, and artists working with sound are developing their own lexicons and pedagogy. This show is a navigation through an acoustic cartography rather than a comprehensive tour. The historically groundbreaking work 3423312 by John Cage is performed by Cage's long-time chess opponent William Anastasi. The powerfully silent framed works of Atsushi Nishijima and Stephen Sollins, coexist with the beautifully embodied sculptural sound works of David Abir and Chris Kubick. The dislocation and shaping of sounds in space are presented in the nuanced aural sculptures of Nadine Robinson and Stephen Vitiello. The innovatively transductive sound maneuvers based in biology of Jeff Wyckoff are contrasted against Paul Pfeiffer's video work with Language Removal Service, distilling language to its biological punctuations: glottal stops and deglutition. The intensely silent human dimensioned sculptural work by William Anastasi contrasts sharply with the aggressive video piece by Warren Neidich, who sharply foregrounds sound over vision.