The Erasure of Everyday Time: using sound to explore our new reality in the age of climate crisis – the familiar, but ungraspable.
In this Washington DC exhibition, Clark uses a series of machines to imitate sounds of nature – water fountains, fans, and record players. An orchestra is created by placing the machines on their own programmed cycles. An adjacent monitor shows a video of traditional Sacred Harp Shape Note singers in an industrial wind tunnel.
The Erasure of Everyday Time, by Heather Theresa Clark, is a soundscape hung within an overbuilt commercial scaffolding system. As part of the group exhibition Landscape in an Eroded Field, Clark was tasked with creating a work that reflects the pictorial landscape tradition in the Anthropocene Era. In response, Clark avoids representing landscape with what is visible and in plain sight, and instead uses sound to explore our new reality in the age of climate crisis – the familiar, but ungraspable.
Clark uses a series of machines to imitate sounds of nature – water fountains, fans, and multiple record players. The record players play Daniel Levin’s improvisational cello Living. An orchestra is created by placing each set of machines on their own programmed cycle. Sometimes all three sets of machines play at once, while other times, only one or two sets of machines play. Any overlap is serendipitous and by chance. It is unlikely that the same pattern will happen twice.
An adjacent monitor shows a video of traditional Sacred Harp Shape Note singers recorded in an industrial wind tunnel. The four singers sing, and then repeat, the traditional song, Idumea. Adhering to the shape note singing tradition, they first sing the ‘shapes’ (i.e., the sounds that represent each note of music). Then they sing the words. The wind tunnel fans quickly pick up speed.
Alberto Gaitán, soundscape contributor, reflects that “each sound maker follows its own logic oblivious of the others. It will be in the observers’ ear that these cycles will coalesce into an aesthetic experience, an understanding related to their ability to deeply listen and otherwise engage with the work. The same might apply to humanity at this geologic instant. It is within our capacity to marshal reason in a constructive manner to minimize the existential threat that the products of human technological evolution are having on our environment.”
The Erasure of Everyday Time is physically tied to our extractive fossil fuel economy in both its industrial materials and its electricity consumption. The scaffolding is temporarily borrowed from the construction industry for this creative gesture. The work parallels how we are all beholden to this fossil fuel economy, despite our best intentions.
The Erasure of Everyday Time is being shown at the American University Museum in Washington DC, in the group exhibition Landscape in an Eroded Field. Curated by Laura Roulet, the exhibition brings together three women artists (Heather Theresa Clark, Carol Barsha, and Artemis Herber) whose work reflects the evolution of the pictorial landscape tradition in the Anthropocene era. Depicting nature and the environment is one of the most ancient and elemental expressions of art. From cave painting to Dutch still lifes to social practice incorporating life forms, artists have always been attentive and responsive to the world around them. This exhibition spans landscape painting that takes no social or political stance to multi-media painting and sculpture that puts climate change at the center of its meaning.
The Erasure of Everyday Time is by Artist Heather Theresa Clark.
Music from Living: Daniel Levin Solo by permission of the artist.
Photo Credits – All photos by Anne Kim, except for the close up of the record player, which is by Greg Staley
Video Credits – District Dodgers
WIND TUNNEL VIDEO
Contributors: Elizabeth Rossano, cinematography; Sean Clute, audio recording; Bill Wolter, audio master; Kerry Cullinan, Constance Des Marais, Scott Luscombe, Moira Smiley, singers
This exhibit is made possible from contributions from Scaffolding Solutions, Denon, Global Industrial, Kanto, Bella Faccia, Lamps Plus, and SOH Wind Engineering.