Ann Hamilton’s phora, a multi-room installation at La Maison Rouge in Paris, featured a suspended refugee tent; seven double belled sousaphone ends, a video projector and four speakers, all spinning; clothing hung from the ceiling; an enormous wood table; and 130 images that lined the entrance corridor from floor to ceiling and surrounded the red house and garden at the enter of the site.
A gathering and dispersal of vocalizations both heard and seen, the elements created the passing illusion of the mouth's opening or closing. Re-installed here in the Center’s Grand Foyer, the Burchfield Penney exhibition of (phora · images) features 102 of the original 130 large prints (33 3/4” x 46 1/4”) from the 2005 installation.
Hamilton made these images using a miniature video camera in close proximity to the mouths of figures on large medieval relief panels from Stockholm’s Museum of National Antiquities. Using a frame grab process, Hamilton captured, altered, and enlarged the images. They were then printed on Somerset Satin paper using an Iris printer at the Institute for Electronic Art at Alfred. The brightly painted wooden forms, non-sentient and silent, are re-enlivened in these highly saturated images. “The threshold,” Hamilton writes, “like the mouth, is the limit and the boundary that distinguishes and bears the between. Demurring or exclaiming as one mouth turns toward or away from another, the possibility of a first speaking. Breath is formed here by the hand…by the animating of the frozen figures and the silences they conjure.”
Hamilton often develops objects and prints through collaborations with organizations that offer interesting opportunities or methods for creating her work. These include Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, and the Institute for Electronic Art at Alfred. IEA’s collaboration with the artist took place during multiple visits as an artist in residence from 2002 to 2004. She created 176 images for the phora installation at La Maison Rouge; however, only 130 of these were used due to the size constraints of the space. For this same reason, 102 images are on view here in the Grand Foyer.
The images in this exhibition are accompanied by sound realized by IEA media artist and Professor of Sonic Arts, Andrew Deutsch. Based on the spinning speakers in phora, Deutsch used software called GRM Tools to create micro-loops of Ann Hamilton’s voice. The resulting environment corresponds with Hamilton’s approach to combining text and sound while performing an improvisation of her poems.
The improvisational sounds created are those of the harmonics of the voices, which locate and sound a common tone. Hamilton and Deutsch have been collaborating on such projects since 1998, when they made sound recordings that later became the installation First Line. It premiered at the Burchfield Penney Art Center during the exhibition Signals from the Electronic Cloud at the Burchfield Penney in 2002.
General admission to the Burchfield Penney Art Center is free to Buffalo State students, faculty, staff, and Burchfield Penney members.