Synthesize: Art + Music

Exhibition Website

Jun 3 2017 - Sep 24 2017

Synthesize (verb): to compose or combine parts or elements so as to form a whole.

Synthesize: Art + Music presents a wide array of visually and aurally dynamic pieces that underscore the ways artists synthesize, compose, and bring together the visual and sonic in unpredictable ways. Consisting of video, sculpture, and installation, one observes how artists remix classical and pop music, electronic beats, instruments, and music videos to form multilayered connections between visual art, music, film, and popular culture. At times, musical instruments are created from unexpected objects or animated lines. At others, singers and bodily movements explore the relationship between rock stars and fandom. Rich with musical and cultural references, Synthesize is a thought-provoking investigation about the potential of and relationship to music in visual form.

Pushing the boundaries of each discipline-art and music-the works on view highlight various ways in which visual arts make music. For example, French composer and artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot outfits vacuum cleaners with harmonicas and sound-frequency analyzers. As the vacuums turn on and off, sucking air into the harmonicas, they produce an unpredictable, fortuitous orchestration of instruments.

In Guitar Lesson by Icelandic-artist Ragnar Kjartansson, an instructor leads a class through a series of notes and chords. Here, each student strums independently of the other and wears headphones that silence the peers. The class culminates with a song heard only to the viewer-a song reliant on all of its participants. Guitar Lesson relies on the active role of the participant to see and hear the song during its act of creation.

Throughout the exhibition, the remix attitude takes center stage as it incorporates numerous visual and musical references and challenges our understanding of what each medium can be.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • International
  • Contemporary
  • Céleste Boursier-Mougenot
  • Ragnar Kjartansson
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates