Experimental Notations is an exhibition not only of cooperation in dialogues between sound and visual representations, but an illustration of the strength of collaboration in nearly every form that makes up successfully executed shows such as this. For this particular one, two of the best Oakland galleries, Royal Nonesuch and MacArthur b Arthur are working in cooperation with each other (something unfortunately not seen in many other cities) and also sharing curatorial direction with Jeff Ray of Mission Creek Music and Art Festival. Together, this exploration into sound art, a genre not usually given as much attention as it deserves, reaches far beyond what many exhibitions hope to accomplish because of the depth of collaboration, and examination through dialogue and ventures between genres.
At MacArthur b Arthur, Jesse Eisenhower and Veronica Graham’s “Making One’s Way Through Climate X,” consists of Graham’s notational linocut monoprint, actually made before the score, and Eisenhower’s score, which ”translated” the arrangement of the linocuts on the paper. Its end result is a monoprint resembling a geographic map, providing the listener with a visual sense of progress to follow along. Although not directly evident in the finished product, the cyclical nature of the design, each representation inspiring and influencing the other remains a very powerful element to the work.
The same kind of collaboration and dialogue between the visual and sound is seen in Jill Auckenthaler’s “What My Schedule Sounds Like, For Player Piano.” Auckenthaler’s work is primarily concerned with time, both chronicling its passage and arranging that chronicle with both a priori standards and self-imposed restraints. The player piano makes sounds that exhibit the pace and patterns of the soundscape of the artist’s daily life living and working in New York City. With the unique ability of player piano rolls, Auckenthaler explains how the the sound of her daily activities is given visuality: “Calendars and activities inhabit specific octaves and notes above or below middle C in either a supportive (below) or voluntary (above) role, branching out in importance from the center of the keyboard.” This work brings to the fore a unique facet within the sound art genre: the placement of the artist within the creation of the work as both composer and creator; a participation that seems perhaps greater in sound art than visual.