Art Basel – Day One; Finale


There were a handful of parties held during the evening of the first night — I headed to the Miami Art Museum for a raucous event in honor of the installation The Killing Machine and Other Stories by Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. This was a series of rather disturbing multimedia installations. Okay, only the Killing Machine itself was disturbing. It was incredibly reminiscent of a Star Trek TNG episode Schisms where the victims are subjected to tests through mechanized arms on an examination table. In this case, it is mechanized also and surrounded with audio equipment to provide an emotional intrusive soundtrack, obviously meant to evoke a response of fear and impending danger. Elsewhere in the exhibit, I enjoyed an enclosed cabin through which various turn-tables could be seen, each designed to play a crescendo of operatic arias.


Leaving, MAM, I shared a cab with Ryan Biziorek, an Acoustic Consultant from Arup. His company was a consultant for a Ambisonic sound exhibit by Forsyth & Jane Pollard entitled Silent Sound represented by Kate MacGarry. Her piece is part of the ArtPositions display of the festival and are works by emerging artists wholly and entirely contained within, well, storage containers. Ms. MacGarry’s piece was an intensely moving piece of auditory art where one walks into a very dark, enclosed space to simply listen. A CD was available (and purchased!) which is binaural. As the explanatory card says:

The complex sensitivity of human hearing allows us to perceive the three-dimensional nature of our surroundings, deciphering the direction from which sounds originate and well as physically feeling sounds through vibrations. This recording, made using technology developed by Arup Acoustics, captures the full dimensions of the sound, enabling you to sense the live performance in its experiential and spatial entirety. The soundtrack replayed inside the listening chamber is a special ambisonic recording of a live performance, featuring an original score composed for the project by J. Spaceman (Spiritualized).  Embedded within the recording is a subliminal message, known only to the artists. Silent Sound by Iaian Forsyth and Jane Pollard began life as a live performance at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool, England, and was commissioned by A Foundation for Greenland Street 2006. The project was inspired by The Davenport Brothers, Victorian Spiritualist performers who presented a public séance on the same stage in 1865.


I experienced a full Stendhal Syndrome with the sounds of the piece bringing tears to my eyes. I was fortunate to share a great pizza and wonderful company with Ryan as well as Fabio Altamura and Kaavous Clayton. Fabio is Kate’s representative at the container and Kaavous is the "production engineer" who physically constructed the space within the container. Illuminating, enlightening, and engaging company and a wonderful evening!


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