A piano in a gallery
29 Orsman Road
London N1 5RA
2nd July - 2nd August 2006
open Saturday - Sunday 12-6pm
and by appointment +44 20 7012 1203
link to Installation Diary
What happens when all the sound in a room travels through a piano?
A piano sits in the middle of an empty gallery. All the sound in the room is amplified and the sound passed through loudspeakers which resonate over the piano strings which vibrate into the room in a continuous cyclical process.
This situation is the inverse of a piano amplified.
The piano, instrument, conduit and sculpture. The work, pared down and minimal, continuous and evolving. An aesthetic encompassing a reductive gesturality, part Dada, part Bauhaus and part Fluxus, David Cunningham’s installations are all part of one continuous body of work exploring acoustics and subtle sonic dynamics in different locations with changing materials and changing dynamics.
This body of work responds acoustically not only to the space but also to the physical presence of its audience, integrating the object of the work with its subject. This self referentiality is central to one of Cunningham’s basic principles - sound isn't used to illustrate an idea, it is the idea in itself.
The installations reveal the legacy of Fluxus, the often minimalist exploration of scientific, philosophical, sociological, or other extra-artistic ideas, in this case fused with the sensibility of John Cage's use of silence as a compositional tool. Cage's renowned work 4'33", (four minutes and 33 seconds of silence) shifts the focus of the audience to their immediate situation, to the ambient sound around them.
Cunningham structures that ambience through subtle amplification, by placing microphones and loudspeakers in the gallery.This isolating of sound and its magnification back to us makes us aware of the complexities of our presence in any place we are situated. it is this complexity brought out by subtlety that makes for meaningful and potent art. Being able to explore greater issues through tiny subtleties and an economy of means gives a greater understanding of our place and effect in our environment.
This work responds acoustically not only to the proportions and dimensions of the space but also to the physical presence of its audience, integrating the object of the work with its subject. This self referentiality is central to the installation - sound isn't used to illustrate an idea, it is the idea in itself. The work isolates and makes audible the movement of air within a given space, something invisible and so quiet we are normally oblivious to it.