Auckland Art Gallery
After discovering (yes finally) that the Auckland Art Gallery is free on mondays (and I’ve heard possibly also free for AUT students?) me, Christine and Theresa went along hoping to find ourselves some inspiration for our ‘Serious Fun’ studio project. And inspiration there was.
There were two pieces at the gallery that really stood out to me- Room with a Bird by Bundith Phunsombatlert and Singing Cloud by Shilpa Gupta.
The Room with a Bird was really quite an interesting piece for me because it was physically and visually was really quite simple- but at the same time was conceptually deep and really engaging. Phunsombatlert placed bird perches in a hallway, as viewers walk past each one a PIR sensor sets them off as they shake and a squawking bird noise is heard. He manages to put a bird in the room, despite the fact that there is in fact no bird in the room at all. He is questioning what is real, and what is not, based on our perceptions. Using just movement and sound Phunsombatlert has created a bird within the room. Instead of just relying on a flat image to create questions he has placed his viewers into the work, and instead of just looking at a flat image, viewers are able to effect the work themselves, perceive the bird themselves, and ask ‘what does this mean?’.
Like Phunsombatlert, Gupta is also not reliant on traditional art mediums in her work. In fact she has purposefully used new technologies in her work, to say something, and to ask questions about mass production and the media. Like Phunsombatlert she incorporates sound in her work, with sounds climbing up and around and through the cloud. I truthfully didn’t really understand the artist’s full intention, but i still found myself engaged with the work visually as I questioned the large cloud of microphones. While visually the microphone cloud was rather pleasant, it would not have been anywhere near as engaging without the sounds, circling the cloud and moving around it. While I didn’t come to any conclusions, I did ask myself a lot of questions as I stood watching and listening to the industrial cloud. What is art? Can art be just a sound? If this sound wasn’t coming out of a huge microphone cloud would it still be considered a piece of artwork? Would it still be an exhibition in a gallery? Of course, it wasn’t the artists intention for me to ask these questions- but I’ve always been quite interested in sound and specifically its emotional impact on its listeners. Which, in the end, is probably what drew me to these two particular pieces.