Mondrian Goes Digital Electronic at MoMA

Mondrian’s Composition in Yellow, Blue, and White, I inside Haroon Mizra's installation Frame for a Painting

Mondrian’s Composition in Yellow, Blue, and White, I is framed in LEDs inside Haroon Mizra’s sound installation Frame for a Painting

Mondrian’s in the house (literally), starring in a fun interactive installation tucked away near the exit to Soundings: A Contemporary Score, MoMA’s first exhibition devoted entirely to the work of creative contemporary artists working in sound.

The show, which runs through November 3, has plenty of fascinating, thoughtful works in hallways, around bends, and in darkened galleries, such as Tristan Perich’s Microtonal Wall in the entrance hallway, which lets you experience the sound of 1,500 1-bit speakers up close and personal. Listen to it at the bottom of his MoMa artist page.

IMG_2939But the delightful surprise installation is a long, narrow almost hidden room, where Haroon Mizra has installed his ever-changing Frame for a Painting. On the occasion of being at MoMA, he’s chosen Mr. Mondrian’s Composition in Yellow, Blue, and White, I from MoMA’s collection and given this small, jazzy gridwork its own ultra-modern, swinging London, mid-century electro-pad. See it on our Flickr feed.

The narrow room has pointy yellow acoustic foam covering the tall walls. At the far end, you see Composition framed in a rectangle of electric blue LED lights that flash in sync to a pulsing electronic sound track. You have to maneuver around a low Danish modern side table from which a bright red bicycle light pulses and bleeps.

It’s a nice tribute to this favorite Modern master, and one of the few nooks in the show where visitors are taking photos and making little Vine videos like crazy. Composition harkens back to 1937, the table to the 1950s, and the sounds to the dawn of electronic music. It feels like a crazy time machine in an over-the-top conceptual 1960s living room.  Surely Mr. Mondrian would approve of the precision and interrupted rhythm. In any case, Composition certainly seems to enjoy being liberated from the white-wall treatment upstairs.

Close-up of the foam lining all the walls of Mondrian's slim room

Close-up of the foam lining all the walls of Mondrian’s slim room

Another work in the show that you might remember is a sound piece that used to be installed on the High Line in 2010 – Stephen Vitiello’s A Bell for Every Minute, which features New York City bells that he recorded and are heard every 60 seconds. You can get a taste of the experience listening to Bell Study, an audio track embedded at the bottom of his artist page used as an underlay in his longer audio piece.

Also check out the track from Jana Winderen’s Ultrafield, which slows down the ultrasound communications of bats, fish, and underwater insects so that we can hear the “hidden” sounds of our fellow species for the first time. Listen in to Jana’s work and check out the other artists on MoMA’s interactive show site.

And feel free to record and add your own everyday sounds to MoMA’s show site.

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