Music Stands (2019)
Currently on view at The Artists Institute, New York, through March 30. See Events for details.
Text by Christoph Cox:
Marina Rosenfeld creates sound systems. Sometimes these are performances for military orchestras or for rows of earbud-linked teenagers; at other times they take the form of physical interventions into sites, charging various objects (bass cannons, PA loudspeakers, or microphone clusters) with the tasks of amplification and reproduction. In every instance, Rosenfeld carefully attends to the distribution and directionality of amplified bodies in space, considering the relations of power that these arrangements concretize and contest. Eschewing sound as transmission—the authoritative, unidirectional pronouncement—Rosenfeld explores the disruptive, feminist potential of machinic propagation. She programs unruly flows of sonic material in closed circuits or recursive, feedback-prone systems, interrupting the silence of the white cube with momentary eruptions of noise and vocality.
In her latest work, Music Stands, three metal armatures, derived from the spatial notations of an earlier work, Free Exercise (2016), support a constellation of microphones and speakers. Interspersed are a set of reflective photographic panels that depict an array of deformed shapes that baffle and modulate sounds as they are released into the gallery. In subtle homage to Maryanne Amacher, the combination of visual and aural cues makes possible the perception of actual shapes and vectors in space: blobs, spirals, planes and other wrinkled or folded geometric forms that fleetingly occupy the gallery.
Rosenfeld’s sounds are tenuous, suggestive, and generative. Like the sound fragments she employs as a turntablist, these samples are recorded traces, ephemera. Prominent among these are samples of Rosenfeld’s own voice, recordings that register both the presence of the artist’s body and its absence or replacement by an electronic, dysphoric surrogate. As in all her work, Rosenfeld foregrounds the unstable, inert materiality of electronic sound.
Accompanying Music Stands is a set of scores related to another work, Deathstar (2017), which featured a microphone array that registered and reproduced the sound of a hyper-resonant gallery. In an effort to develop a notational schema that left room for the transcription of extreme frequencies and feedback, Rosenfeld realized it was necessary to leave more and more space above and below the staff. The “blank” scores here await notations in the extreme or outlying registers of frequency, resonance, and feedback, mirroring the artist’s fascination with the temporal displacements and distortions of electronic sound.
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