Friday, July 04, 2008

Two Places Hanging Gardens installation review in CIRCA Art Magazine

The installation, Hanging Gardens that Jurgen Simpson and I created for the Two Places exhibition have gotten some great reviews in CIRCA (Issue 124, Summer 2008). This exhibition ran concurrently in two locations, hence two places, in the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast and in the University of Limerick.

The Belfast aspect of the piece was reviewed by Niall de Buitlear who said
Jurgen Simpson and Eoin Brazil have collaboratively produced Hanging garden. The piece, more than any other in the show, creates an environment in which the audience is immersed; it is a simulation of garden in which sixteen speakers represent insects or other small animals which react to each other and to the movements of the audience. The piece responds directly to the architecture of the gallery, in this case the overhead metal grid which is the most distinctive feature of the mezzanine space at OBG.

Overall the exhibition is varied in terms of the quality of the works on show and their engagement with the context of the exhibition. It is at its most rewarding, as in SHRDLU/BELFAST and Hanging garden, when the work responds to the architectural space while engaging the viewer with a range of abstract, suggestive possibilities.

The Limerick aspect of the piece was reviewed by Karen Normoyle-Haugh who said
Perhaps the most successful work in this exhibition is Hanging Gardens by Jurgen Simpson and Eoin Brazil. Occupying the hallway upon entering a campus building, it provides ample space for the viewer to sit and listen to the sounds. Hanging gardens consists of sixteen speakers, each one generating its own sound in response to the sounds around it. Sensors pick up movement within the space and this affects the level and rate of the sound both in Limerick and Belfast through the use of an internet connection. The eerie tinkling and croaking sounds are interspersed with sounds reminiscent of chirping crickets.

Again the work had to compete with a noisy environment. Undoubtedly the idea behind using the campus was that students would, unawares, happily stumble upon the sound artworks. It would unsettle them, disturb them, give them an experience of sound art. However noble the idea, the reality was far from ideal.

I will have to admit to being over the moon at getting such great press and while there were a few wrinkles in the UL end, it was a great experience. Sonic art works well in gallery spaces but in busy campus environments it has got to be notched up but doing so in collaboration with the denizens of a space is not always as easy as it seems. I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to have worked with Jurgen and we're already thinking about a couple of other ideas for future work.

In case you missed it, here's a clip from Limerick of the piece.

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