Sound Digressions: Spectrum

September 8th - October 28th, 2017

Galerie Mitterrand , Paris

While at California Institute of the Arts, Tony Oursler studied with John Cage and worked with the Paik-Abe synthesizer. These formative experiences are evident in his multimedia work, which often involves chance strategies, which occur in his installations. With the Sound Digressions series, Oursler continues this experiment by working separately with 7 notable performers and combining these recordings in a perpetually phasing playback system. The resulting installations have the effect of a living, ever-changing composition for the viewer. These musical performances, shot in 2005, were originally conceived as raw material for the seven-part series, based loosely on the relationship between sound and the color spectrum. Sound Digressions: Spectrum is the second in this series, which is shown for the first time ever at Galerie Mitterrand in Paris. The previous installation, Sound Digressions in Seven Colors was shown at NYEHAUS New York in 2005. This work was exhibited extensively around Europe and America and is now in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. When the work was originally shown, seven video paintings were produced and exhibited based on each of the performers. These works will also be exhibited at the Galerie Mitterrand this fall. A limited vinyl edition of Sound Digressions: Spectrum will be released at the show's opening.

The Seven Notable Performers

Tony Conrad, a major figure in the minimalist movement, is known for his drone violin works and The Flicker film, as well as many multimedia activities. Oursler has had numerous collaborations with him since the late 70s; most notably the soundtrack for The Influence Machine. Conrad’s Estate is represented by Greene Naftali gallery and his recordings are widely available. He is the subject of a forthcoming major retrospective at the Albright Knox museum scheduled to open March of 2018.

Kim Gordon is a multimedia artist who has exhibited extensively. She is well known for her bass and vocal work with Sonic Youth, has for the past 30 years worked with various solo projects, notably Body/Head. She and Oursler have collaborated in numerous projects since 1983. In 2014, she published her memoir Girl In a Band, which explored her childhood, life in art, and went behind the scenes of Sonic Youth. She is represented by 303 Gallery.

Ikue Mori’s new project is a duo with Yoshimi (of the band Boredoms) called Twindrums. Although she plays numerous instruments, she is well known for playing a laptop computer. Her exploration of synthetic sounds has broadened her scope of musical expression. Her current working groups include Mephista and the Phantom Orchard Orchestra. She was also a member of the seminal No Wave band DNA.

Zeena Parkins is known for her transformative use of the harp. Her range and intensity have taken an instrument known for its classical use and electrified it, thus redefining it in the process. She has released four solo records featuring her electric and acoustic harp playing. She has released her compositions and band projects on six Tzadik recordings. Most recently she released Trouble in Paradise, an album in collaboration with Ikue Mori and the Phantom Orchard Orchestra.

Lee Ranaldo is an artistic polymath active in a wide range of mediums. He has produced numerous cinematic installations and collaborations with his wife Lea and Alan Licht. He is also known as the guitarist of the band Sonic Youth. His experimental use of de-tuned instrument has affected generations of rock music. He is set to release his new album, Electric Trim, in September of this year.

J.G. Thirlwell has released more than 25 extremely influential projects since the 80s under various guises and identities such as Foetus. For this project, Thirlwell played with an obscure bowed instrument (with water inside) called the Waterphone which he electrified to produce haunting tones. Recently, Thirlwell and Oursler scored the soundtrack to Oursler’s film Imponderable.

Stephen Vitiello is known for his sound installation, as well as his live improvisational performances. He uses an ephemeral approach to sound that has intrigued listeners around the world. Oursler, Constance DeJong and Vitiello produced a major collaboration titled Fantastic Prayers and and an interactive CD-rom with the DIA Foundation in 2000. Vitiello is now based in Richmond, VA where he is a Professor in the department of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University.