Where does digital end and material begins?
In his exhibition entitled Sensing Singularity, Austrian-born, Los Angeles based artist Johannes Girardoni attempts to elucidate the mystery. Influenced by the works of Light and Space artists James Turrell and Robert Erwin, Girardoni explores how new perceptions other than the tangibles can be created from light and sound.
He dissects, analyses, recomposes and offers a different view from the original version. The content of his thought process is applied through means like sculptures, billboards, and installations. Recently, his pieces have involved more than palpable materials and rather abstract compositions made of light, sensors and sounds.
The first encounter at the gallery is with a gigantic oval faceted-shaped sculpture where viewers are encouraged to settle in a white environment. Inside Metaspace V3, the sensors sporadically detect movements, sending back light instantly followed by sound. It’s a continuous spiral materialised by the diffusion of a colour block palette: blue, red, yellow, and green. The sound emitted is pure, grave, as if made of frequencies. The structure is at first intimidating, due to its massive size and the unusual sounds emanating from it. Once inside, the vibrations become progressively reassuring. Whilst alone in the pod, I am unsure how the colours and the sound would have infused the space had there been other participants. I felt transported and at ease, gradually piecing the artwork together, realising that the lights were following an irregular pattern. Metaspace takes in Girardoni’s installation with all its meaning.
The second part of the exhibition requires an app especially created for the installation which transmits a wavelength sound coming from the resin pixelated shapes pinned on the walls. The ‘Resonant’ sculptures are equipped with the same virtual Spectro-Sonic Refrequencer sensors as in the meta. By targeting the screen’s centre circle , I am able to “hear” each of the sculptures’ colour. The explanation on the leaflet reads: “The app uses light frequency data to generate corresponding sound frequencies, making the sculptures audible.”
The sounds of Red orange, Yellow orange, Red violet, Blue violet, and Yellow blue are indeed subtly different to one another. The perceptible noise feels more like an accumulation of quirky beats rather than a long, unbroken melody. I find it fascinating that a colour could be associated as a sound. If everything we saw daily could speak, it would change our entire conception of the world.
This type of thinking is reminiscent of artist Ryoji Ikeda having reviewed his work at Almine Rech gallery in London April 2017. Ikeda’s work translates light and sound into a coding binary system. So, in both process, the search for a derivative extensive expression of concepts such as colour, sound, and in Girardoni’s work, motion is the drive of both artists.
The pieces displayed in the last room of the gallery circle back to 2008 with additional works made as recently as 2018. The sculptures are reclaimed chunks of wood on which Girardoni poured coloured beeswax. The difference in texture between the rawness of the wood and the limpidity of the wax confer a distinctive contrast signalling the starting point of his work. The materials are simple yet when placed together, extract their essence and projects it to the viewer’s consciousness, opening his field of perspective. The apposition of those two means just like light and sound transports us into the abstraction of Girardoni’s metaspace.
Sensing Singularity: Johannes Girardoni at Levy Gorvy London (20 July – 15 September 2018)