One might assume that an art exhibit on sound would be heavy on aural experience, but in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's Soundwaves: The Art of Sampling, some pieces make no sound at all.
Take British artist Tim Bavington's 'Roll With It.' Named after an Oasis song, the painting, which stretches across an entire gallery wall, comprises four rows of vertical lines. Each row represents an instrument track and each vertical line is a note, distinguished by the color Bavington selected (E, for instance, is blue-green). Two rooms over is Dario Robleto's striking 'The Diva Surgery,' made up of things that have the potential for sound: glassware and surgical tools laid out neatly in a large glass box.
Then there are the soundmakers. For 'The Lonesome Hobo,' San Diego artist Sean Duffy took two vintage turntables, cut them in half and fused two of the halves together, creating a single turntable with two arms. As the record spins, the second needle echoes the sounds the first needle creates. Sometimes everything syncs up nicely, and sometimes, as Duffy said, 'it makes some beautiful disasters.' The 'hobo' aspect of the piece is reflected in well-worn travel cases holding a set of speakers and several LPs used in the exhibit--you can ask a museum guard to switch out a record.
In another room is a lounge area and headphones. Projected on a wall is the website for the artist group Collective Foundation (www.collectivefoundation.org). MCASD provided a grant for the group to set up a public playlist specifically for the exhibit that museum-goers can listen to and anyone (from home only) can add to and download from.On Thursday, Oct. 4, the museum's monthly TNT event, held downtown, includes a music-inspired fashion show and a performance by Minneapolis 'sound-art' duo Beatrix*JAR. On Saturday, Oct. 6, Beatrix*JAR leads a workshop on the art of circuit bending (manipulating low-voltage devices to create sounds). The workshop is $20 for members, $30 for non-members. For more Soundwaves events, check out www.mcasd.org. The main exhibit runs through Dec. 30 at the museum's La Jolla location.