From April 01 2000 to May 06 2000

Millie Chen (Toronto)

April 1st - May 6th 2000

Exhibition : April 1st - May 6th 2000

The two sound works Millie Chen presents in the exhibition HUM utilize tactile materiality to trigger immaterial sonic vibrations. Substances - iron, blood, felt, bone - grounded with corporeal weight are shaped into forms that are simultaneously familiar and exaggerated, becoming conduits for fleeting sensations.

The sound sculpture, entitled Hornful, presents a self-enclosed circulatory system that cycles breath into instrumental sound via a convoluted structure. The structure is essentially a sound system - it can be perceived as an elaborate musical instrument or a breathing device, both as extensions of the body. The structure sprouts from a found source, a pair of deer antlers, positioned above the viewer’s crown. Two cast iron forms positioned at ear and mouth level, are orifices through which breath enters and exits the structure. As the breath exits the structure, human voice turns into the emission from a wind instrument. The effect is that of sound continually circulating throughout the sculpture and the body of the listener, now implicated as part of the system. In the second portion of the installation, the work Buzz Humm subverts language by intervening with words at the auditive level, by playing with words which give direct access to sounds. "The act of reading conjures the act of listening by evoking sound”. Working with this idea, the artist has selected 38 onomatopoeic words, which emerge from a sound dampening surface. The sequence of words transgresses language and its signification system, thereby demonstrating the human voice’s capacity to generate mechanical noises.

The exhibition explores the capacity of permeation between varying materials and dimensions, between work and audience. The relationship between seeing and hearing is shifted back and forth, generating a perceptual trance. In the two works, Hornful and Buzz Humm, the act of looking at an object disengages one from listening; the act of listening to an object disengages one from viewing; the act of looking at an object conjures the act of listening.

From texts by Millie Chen

Millie Chen (Toronto)