Monday, 8 November 2010

phase 5

Phase 5 is an exhibition of works loosely related to each other by the theme of sound on Seel Street. The building they are in is an unfinished nightclub that had to be abandoned due to a lack of funds. The first piece I encountered was "I Delayed People's Flights by Walking Slowly in Narrow Hallways" by Mayke Nas and Wouter Snoei. The piece combined sound in the form of an audio loop of urgent whispers, a film of a group of people collaboratively writing on a series of blackboards, and also a participatory element in the form of a blackboard which the viewer was encouraged to write on. The theme was confession, although I don't feel much was confessed. Both the messages of the film and on the blackboard seemed contrived and overly earnest. Many struck me as trying very hard to be, or at least seem, profound.

This piece by Phil Jeck was one of the more successful works in the show, I felt. The piece had this pool of floating records, as well as two other lowered areas the viewer could look down on which had a number  of turntables, some of which were spinning, some of which weren't. The work was clearly very lo-fi and slapdash, although it had a subtle atmosphere to it that some of the other works lacked. The arrangement was very serene, with the faint rhythmical noise of scratchy spinning records as well as the movement of the floating discs, but there was also an air of upset to it. The repetitiousness and sparsity, I felt , gave it a slightly sinister tone. It was meditative and spoke of introspection, but not in a cosy way.

The piece "Play" by Giussepe Stampo was a series of five black speakers shaped like coffins, which would play The Star-Spangled Banner quite loudly when ten pence was inserted into it. This work, I felt, was very blatant, almost facetious, and not very affecting.

"Murmur" by Ray Lee, located in the basement, was a very effective piece. The piece would activate whenever someone entered, and the viewer would look down into darkness at a series of whirring, spinning red lights at various heights. At the end, the lights would come on and the rickety structures of speakers, lights and motors would become visible. The lights in darkness alone I felt  could have alluded to a number of things, such as the cyclical movement of atoms or perhaps astral orbiting patterns. The piece's real poignancy however came from the few seconds in which the viewer was allowed to see the actual constructions,  ladders and wires, which gave the work a sense of personality and human endeavour.

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