THE SOUND OF THINGS
August 4, 2017 — November 11, 2017
In the Artist Hall
Friday, September 22, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
The evening will also feature the opening of For Hire: Contemporary Sign Painting in America in the Main Gallery, Storyline in the Front Gallery, and open studios by the current resident artists.
Opening this summer at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC), The Sound of Things, featuring the work of artists Bohyun Yoon and Alyce Santoro, conceptualizes sound and its laden potential within objects and craft materials. The exhibition prompts visitors to ask: What does glass sound like? What does a sonic weaving look like? Yoon and Santoro have mined the history of their respective materials—glass and woven audio tape—to engage with these questions and make tangible what was once unperceivable.
Bohyun Yoon’s work explores sound as well as imperceptible modes of communication and social structures. The artist combines his medium of glass and its properties of vibration resonance, refraction, and transparency with accompanying video performances to make the invisible visible. His Glassorganism series takes the form of Japanese popen. These historical, hand-blown glass noisemakers are characterized by a hollow stem and bowl, connected by a thin glass membrane, which moves between convex and concave states when activated by human breath. After seeing this object depicted in an 18th-century woodblock print by Utamaro Kitagawa, Yoon began conceptualizing the sound it would emit and, after an experimental process of making, ultimately found that the form had potential as an instrument of both sound and light refraction.
The sonic potential of glass objects is expressed and explored in other series by the artist as well. Composed of varying blown-glass tubes with onomatopoeic names, each piece in Yoon’s Glass Tube emits a singular sound when warm air is blown through it, releasing ephemeral tones unique to each object. Harnessing the properties of historic “singing glasses,” Yoon’s Glass Helmets series offers water-filled helmets functioning as both musical instruments and prosthetic devices that amplify communication and social connection. The helmets’ spouts allow multiple wearers to change the water levels, thereby altering the tones produced.
Like glass, weaving has a longstanding connection to the aural realm: drafting a weaving pattern is similar to composing music on a staff, and the process of weaving itself has a rhythmic, tonal quality. Alyce Santoro has amplified this connection in her work, developing a woven textile that is literally imbued with recorded music, in a series of works entitled Sonic Fabric. Weaving audio-cassette tape began experimentally for the artist and musician. After a number of trials and collaborative efforts, she found that weaving the tape on a loom resulted in a glinting textile that was both highly durable and retained its magnetic properties, thereby holding sonic potential. In order to “play” her weavings, Santoro developed tape-head-reader gloves, which emit sounds from the tapes as they are run across the surface. She also developed a visual musical score for the textiles by converting light wavelengths to sound wavelengths. Each band of color on the weaving corresponds with a musical note and can be read visually as well as played with the gloves. She uses audio sourced from diverse cultures and time periods as well as records her own audio in the field, allowing for site-specific weavings.
HCCC Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro commented, “The works in this exhibition expand the realm of the gallery-viewing context by incorporating conceptual sound. We invite visitors to experience the artwork with all of their senses by listening to Alyce Santoro’s weavings and viewing the sonic potential in Bohyun Yoon’s ethereal glass pieces.”
The Sound of Things is curated by HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Sarah Darro.
About the Artists
Bohyun Yoon is currently based in Richmond, Virginia, where he is an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He holds MFA degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and Tama Art University in Japan. Yoon’s work has been exhibited internationally, in venues including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Shelburne Museum, and the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea. His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the West Collection, and Song Eun Art Space in Korea. He has been the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, including the Hayward Prize for Fine Arts, the S&R Washington Award, and the International Research Center for Art Fellowship at Kyoto University of Art and Design. His work has been featured in such national and international print publications as Glass Art Quarterly, New Glass Review, Art in Culture, and 40 Under 40: Craft Futures.
Alyce Santoro is an artist and musician. She holds a graduate certificate in scientific illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BS in marine biology from Southampton College. Her work has been exhibited widely in international venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Gwangju Design Biennale. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, among others. Her work has been featured in national and international print publications including The New York Times, Wired, MAKE Magazine, and Orion Magazine, and she has been the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards at venues including the Vermont Studio Center, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
Image credits: (1 – 2) Alyce Santoro, “Sonic Fabric” (detail), 2017. Cassette tape, polyester. Photo courtesy of the artist. (3) Alyce Santoro, “Scroll Scores (Black: 136.1 Hz Edition, Brown: Between Stations Edition),” 2015. Cassette tape, polyester, cassette-tape patches. 10 x 5 feet each. Photo courtesy of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, “RePurposed” exhibition, 2015. Photo by Giovanni Lunardi. (4) Alyce Santoro, “Scroll Scores (Black: 136.1 Hz Edition, Brown: Between Stations Edition),” (detail), 2015. Cassette tape, polyester, cassette-tape patches. 10 x 5 feet. Photo courtesy of the artist. (5) Bohyun Yoon, “Glass Helmet,” 2004. Blown glass. 8 x 12 x 12 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist. (6) Bohyun Yoon, “Sound of Glass Helmet (Video Still),” 2004. Color video with sound. Three minutes. Photo courtesy of the artist. (7 – 8) Bohyun Yoon, “Glassorganism,” 2013. Blown glass, 17-channel color video with sound. One minute and 20 seconds. Photo courtesy of the artist. (9 – 11) Bohyun Yoon, “Glass Tube,” 2012. Blown-glass tubes, color video with sound. Two minutes. Photo courtesy of the artist.