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New articulations

Keith Gallasch

You enter an empty room to a cry, guttural, male, primal. It’s hard to know where it’s coming from. You stop. You move. Another cry. A chorus of cries, syllabic utterances. You sense you’re making the noise. It’s not that it is yours, but somehow you determine it. Now you play it, treading back and forth, scattering the triggering laser beams and alert to the row of holes in one wall, the constructivist, circular images behind glass that seem to correspondingly jerk into fracturing spins, reassembling themselves into unique concentric arrangements. They are almost the red and black of glowing coal, beautiful in stillness, wild in their agitation and accompanying vocal outbusts. (A closer look at them in action on the CD-ROM that comes with the catalogue reveals that the process of their transformation is wonderfully 3-dimensional.) On the other side of this wall there are more of these ‘portholes’ into some strange otherness. The cries, sighs, moans yield new syllables and grow densely choral, male and female.

In one corner of the room a plinth bears a Henry Moore-like sculpture, a horizontal limb, rising, bulbous at one end. A helpful man says, “It’s a theremin. Move your hand here to increase the pitch and here to alter the volume.” The compositional power of your presence is suddenly increased, as you create additional sound and seem to further manipulate the rumbling choir. “It’s better if there are at least 2 of you”, says the man as he leaves. I try to imagine this. On the other side of the wall of portholes hangs a brightly lit microphone. Apparently if you reproduce some of the vocabulary of cries you’ve heard into the microphone, another level of sound will be produced. Either it’s not working or I haven’t the mimic’s knack. Even so, I leave West Space gallery much taken with Poly-Articulate, its spooky play with modernist certainties, the excellent quality of the recorded sound, the manipulability of the finely articulated whole and the sense I had of being implicated in a newly articulated, but as yet unintelligible world.

Poly-Articulate, Justin Clemens (writer, poet), Chris Henschke (digital artist), John Meade (sculptor), Andrew Trevillian (typographer, designer); West Space, Melbourne, Oct 4-26

RealTime issue #52 Dec-Jan 2002 pg. 19

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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