Gordon Monahan – Seeing Sound: Sound Art, Performance & Music 1978 - 2011 [Book/DVD]

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Gordon Monahan – Seeing Sound: Sound Art, Performance & Music 1978 - 2011 [Book/DVD]

20.00

Publishers: Maclaren Art Centre/Doris McCarthy Gallery/Blackwood Gallery/Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Format: Book/DVD

Year: 2011

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Edited by Linda Jansma and Carsten Seiffarth

160 pages, hardcover, full colour, 19.5cm x 25cm
ISBN 978-1-926589-09-1
includes accompanying DVD

Seeing Sound: sound art, performance and music 1978-2011 is the first comprehensive monograph on Gordon Monahan’s uncompromising and radically innovative artist's multifaceted body of work. This trilingual book—with parallel text in English, French, and German—was published in conjunction with the 2011 multisite retrospective exhibition of Monahan’s work of the same title. This book begins with three texts about Monahan’s body of work, then goes on to detail 45 of his works with descriptions, scores, and documentary images. Video documentation for 14 of these works is included on a DVD that comes with the book. This publication was co-published by the four Ontario galleries that presented the exhibition: Maclaren Art Centre, Barrie; Doris McCarthy Gallery, Scarborough; Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga; and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa.

Video Compilation 1986-2010 DVD

  1. Speaker Swinging (1982/1987)
  2. A Magnet That Speaks Also Attracts (1986)
  3. Long Aeolian Piano (1986)
  4. Aquaeolian Whirlpool (1990)
  5. Aquaeolian Music Room (1991)
  6. Sounds and the Machines That Make Them (1994)
  7. Spontaneously Harmonious in Certain Kinds of Weather (1996)
  8. When it Rains (2000)
  9. New and Used Furniture Music (2003/2005)
  10. Aeolian Winds Over Claybank, Saskatchewan (2007)
  11. Theremin Pendulum (2008)
  12. Syncopated Precipitation (2009)
  13. Space Becomes the Instrument (2009)
  14. Sauerkraut Synthesizer (2010)
For BOMB Magazine, Nicolas Collins says:
"Gordon Monahan’s book, Seeing Sound, a charming catalogue raisonné of his work from 1978 to 2011, arrived at my doorstep on the cusp of July, amidst the media blitz surrounding Higgs boson. A banner week for the experimental method. But a small white cloud of doubt lingered in the otherwise bright blue sky above Geneva, and 800 trillion proton-proton collisions cannot quite dispel it. I’m sure it continues to disrupt the sleep of scientists all over the world. Musicians, however, work all night, so what’s a little doubt?
Seeing Sound calls up memories of a time when doubt wasn’t an irritation but a driving force. As a student in the 1970s, I was immersed in what was often called (quite rightly) “experimental music”: the acoustic explorations of Alvin Lucier; the unstable circuits of David Tudor, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman; open-form scores like “In C” and “For 1, 2 or 3 People”; Pauline Oliveros’s “Sonic Meditations”; and the shambolic early live computer music by the League of Automatic Music Composers. Every concert I attended seemed propelled by uncertainty, to the verge of catastrophe. Sometimes this was exacerbated by the unreliability of the technology (especially those homemade circuits), but many composers and performers actively embraced risk and willfully piloted their ships as close as possible to submerged hazards.
By the mid-1980s, however, the shifting winds of zeitgeist had blown most musical sailors away from the shoals, many of them in a distinctly poppy direction. After hearing the Ramones, Rhys Chatham abandoned his oscillators for guitars and drums. Equipment became more reliable, and risk was reduced to the occasional broken string or tripped circuit breaker. At age 30 I was already feeling slightly anachronistic.
But the next year I heard Monahan’s Speaker Swinging at New Music America in Houston. Three plinthed performers replaced the frequently sanctimonious smugness of high minimalism with the sweaty hedonism of rock and roll. Out of their twirling speakers flowed Lucieresque sine waves, and there was an obvious nod to Tudor’s notion of the loudspeaker as a musical instrument. But Monahan also evoked the Doppler wail of emergency vehicles, the cheesy grandeur of Leslie speakers, the hyperreal helicopters of Apocalypse Now, the excessive showmanship of Roger Daltrey, and the glitz of disco strobe lights. Monahan maintained experimentalism’s ineffable sense of risk: it seems as if at any moment a five-pound loudspeaker might break loose and hurtle across the room and into a viewer’s face like an obese boson.
Reading Seeing Sound brings back that poignant demonstration of experimentalism and reveals that it has persisted in Monahan’s work over the subsequent decades. It makes me feel positively spry. The texts are insightful—a mix of interviews and critical essays—and trilingual (English, French, and German). Buy three copies and give two away."