At MoMA PS1, 2 Installations Offer a Symphony of Sound

Queens, NEW YORK—The performance is mesmerizing. A room full of speakers at MoMA PS1, each dedicated to the voice of an individual member of a choir. The result, “The Forty Part Motet” by Canadian-artist Janet Cardiff is a harmonious creation that offers a unique experience depending on where in the room you listen and the speaker to which you are closest. Walking around the installation during the 14-minute recording (11 minutes of performance, three minutes of silent intermission) maximizes the experience.

A more industrial symphony is on display in another part of the museum. “Platone (Platoon)” is a formation of 60 air compression tanks outfitted with whistles on a timing device. The random air releases and whistle sounds put on a fascinating, rhythmic performance. The air tank installation by Italian artist Lara Favaretto is part of an exhibit of her works titled, “Just Knocked Out.”

Cardiff’s “spatialized adaptation of a sixteenth-century, sacred motet” is on view through Sept. 4, 2012. The “Just Knocked Out” exhibit runs through Sept. 10, 2012.

All photos © Arts Observer

“The Forty Part Motet,” 2001 (40-track sound recording (14:00 minutes), 40 speakers) by Janet Cardiff, reworking of “Spem in Alium Nunquam habui” (1575) by Thomas Tallis.

Installation view of “Plotone (Platoon),” 2005-ongoing (compressed air tanks, pressure regulators, electrical boxes, party whistles, plastic tubing) by Lara Favaretto.

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