For the Assemblage’s Visual Orchestrations, Mary Sherman will present two, multi-sensory installations, Delay and Black Box, each of which is a collaboration with another artist, Florian Grond and Mathieu Corajod. Both works offer poetic explorations of visual imagery in time and space, combining kinetic and performative elements with sound and light to captivate her audiences.
Sherman is best known for her striking pieces that feature fine art materials, hand-made mechanics and digital coding to investigate the enigmatic and elusive machinations of sensory perception. She experiments with sounds and visuals, amplifying and triggering haptic parallels between the eye and ear to draw attention to life’s constant flux of sensory impressions hovering just beyond our consciousness. The results are works that defy categorization, appearing in concert halls, exhibition spaces, and theatrical environments.
For Delay, the artist provocatively asks the question, “What if You Could Hear a Painting?” and persuasively demonstrates that you can. This time-based installation’s focal point is one of Sherman’s thick, impasto paintings, which was subjected to medical scanning and the acoustic artist Florian Grond’s use of granular synthesis to translate the painting’s tactile incidents into sound. Afterwards, spot lit and standing alone in the room, the scanned painting attracts viewers but, once they come close, a sensor triggers a plate that blocks their view. Only seconds later is a portion of the painting revealed – heard through surround-sound speakers and seen behind tiny, slowly moving shutters that, in effect, stretch out the viewing process. The eye – visual art’s sensory darling – is no longer privileged. Its aural soundscape and textural counterpoints underscore the natural interplay of the senses, reveling in an alluring, endless tease.
The combination of sound and visuals is common in Sherman’s oeuvre. Her expertly staged, spare elements, draw out haptic analogies in sound, intensifying her work’s emotional and psychological content. Her installations’ model-like scale and handmade elements (the artist fabricates her works herself) convey a warmth and care, ensuring that, despite being driven by binary code, the artist’s desire to connect to another through making remains, no matter how slightly the viewer may consciously perceive it. The works creak. They slip. And, in these small gestures the audience senses that they (fruitlessly) rebel. In Black Box (previously shown at ars libri, organized by Mario Diacone), once the piece’s top has been removed and it detects our presence, it awakens. The box opens. And in so doing, it reveals its content, a brilliant light, framed, projected, and choreographed around the room into a frenetic cacophony of silhouettes, not unlike life’s barrage of daily inputs, suggested by the Swiss composer Mathieu Corajod’s composition Untitled, for a Box, broadcast through Black Box’s painted lid, which also doubles as a speaker membrane.