On entering Kinetica Museum’s new Soundwaves exhibition, you’re likely to first stumble upon a collaboration between Slade School of Fine Art graduates Lu Clarke and Jaye Ho. The aptly-named “Collaboration 1″ is comprised of an array of speakers arranged on the floor, each containing a considerable amount of sand. White wires run everywhere, connecting to a mixer at one end and black foot pads at the other. While instructions given to us at the door said to “stamp your feet on the black floor pads”, we couldn’t help but feel afraid we’d break something. If told to stamp, however, we stamp and once we realised that we wouldn’t break anything, we stamped harder. Crackles erupted from the speakers and displaced the sand in this interactive set of Chladni Plates. In what seemed like a chain reaction, the crackling took on a life of its own, echoing and decaying in our absence.
Moving just to the other side of the entrance we found the first of two pieces on display by German artist Michael Markett. A clear plastic frame suspended by wires, “kll2.1″ works as a sort of vocal theremin. Placing your hands together inside the frame, and then pretending that those hands are a mouth, results in wonderfully vocoded sounds appearing to flow forth from your fingertips. We found that unhinging our virtual jaws toward the upper and lower edges of the frame produced more twisted, high-pitched wails. Perhaps our mimed mouths were in pain, but our real ones were grinning devilishly.
The second Markett piece, “Kontakstation”, was hard to miss with its five blue wristbands dangling from the ceiling in the centre of the room and everyone using it touching each other so much. They weren’t inappropriately displaying affection in public, mind you, it was the way to make the exhibit generate sound. With one person connected to the centre tether and 1-4 people connected to the outside cords, everyone touches everyone else’s hands to produce a wide range of tones. Skin acts as the synthesizer in this playful work that brings strangers closer together and fights the notion that digital art and electronic music are synonymous with alienation.
Anyone who ever wanted to be a VJ but couldn’t be arsed to learn how will love Gavin Morris’ “AV Arcade Table”. Using a tabletop arcade videogame machine to control custom software, Morris’ fun piece allows players to cycle through a variety of different songs and clip sets. We monopolised the console for at least fifteen minutes, all in the name of journalism, of course, though if it cost money we’d have had all our coins set up along the table to show anyone even thinking of getting a turn that we meant business. While our favourite clips ran through the hip hop classics, a close runner-up pitted electro beats against vector arcade graphics a la “Asteroids”.
Conveniently located in the heart of old Spitalfields Market, Soundwaves at Kinetica is a great way to break from the mercantile madness and explore two floors of sound-warping art. It’s showing through 29 June, so you have just over a month to plan an outing to one of the capital’s best markets and what’s shaping up to be one of its most interesting exhibition spaces as well.
Soundwaves, until 29 June, Kinetica Museum in Old Spitalfields Market. For more information go to the Soundwaves website here.