For artist Simon Blackmore, the nature and history of musical translation and
its relationship to technology has provided a rich area for inquiry. This exhibition brings together three related works that use the language of music to convert one form of information into another: Weather Guitar, a Flamenco guitar that “plays”
to changing weather conditions via an interface with a set of exterior weather instruments; Audio Monitors, a pair of speaker-like objects that don’t broadcast sound, but rather listen to the environment and count down the seconds and minutes of silence, only stopping at 4’ 33”, the length and title of John Cage’s iconic silent musical composition; and Sticks, a computer-based piece that utilizes a modified version of ASCII, an early binary computer code, to transmit text messages across the gallery by the rhythmic clicking of hand-held wooden sticks.
Blackmore’s work is characterized by an inventive, DIY approach that draws on influences such as hobby-style electronics, open-source software, and lo-fi aesthetics. The resulting “performative” sculpture and installations are not, however, just about revealing the inner workings of things that are usually invisible, but rather are an attempt to tackle the more philosophically thorny questions that surround our increasingly complicated relationship with technology and the power it holds over us.
It perhaps should come as no surprise that Blackmore is himself a musician, but his choice of instrument might come as a shock: acoustic guitar. The artist has played the Flamenco guitar, one of the most traditional of instruments, for many years, and has recently spent time in Spain to perfect his technique. But he also creates and performs experimental music as part of the Owl Project, a collective of artists who have appeared throughout Europe playing sculptural electronic instruments of their own design. It is in this clash between the old and the new that Blackmore’s main interests lie, and the works in this exhibition all speak of the artist’s efforts to humanize technology, grounded by an attitude of playful subversion.
Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director.
Simon Blackmore lives and works in Manchester, England. This is his first exhibition in the United States.