ARTNEWS

Art and Trees and Sounds of Atlanta

By Jon Ciliberto

 

The confluence of art over the past weeks openings and benefits and the greater accessibility of gallery spaces has led me to see more art in Atlanta over this period, although often unintentionally.

 

As Marcia Wood kindly directed me to Danielle Roneys installation my eye was captured by small birds flying into and out of a tree, its bare limbs a series of lines against a clouded sky. I hope that my sudden absence from the description of Danielles installation was not noted. The motion of the elements, ordered and held my attention completely I had no choice but to look and continue to look for as long as I was given to experience this purely visual occasion. It wasnt a powerful experience of nature, but one simply of forms, and coming as it did amid a day of looking at gallery-codified Art, the thoroughly magnetic power of the tree, the birds, made a strong impression on me. With this opening of capacity, I descended to the installation, milky children on a green lawn in mute and motionless (but vibrant) sociality. Walking with them and by the activity of weaving through their tiny bodies, one senses the qualities of the pieceÑthe installation requires participation and that participation leads to empathy.

 

Perhaps I am simply predisposed to tress, especially photographs of trees, which highlight their formal qualities. The rainy Sunday, the two friendly Japanese cats, the quiet forested home and the generous hosts all of these also contributed to my great pleasure in viewing Kathryne Kolbs photographs at the Walker House. I hope that others will consider, amongst the surfeit of events this evening, visiting and looking at these beautiful images.

 

I do wonder about sound art, about the inclusion of sound elements by visual artists in their projects. In most instances, these elements are either expected or arbitrary. It seems that the ubiquity of personal computers and tools for sound editing has made it so easy for individuals to create sound montage that attention to the content of this work is left by the wayside. In just the same way that DJs are called musicians in the language of contemporary aesthetics; individuals who assemble sounds are called sound artists. On the one hand, I note the lack of consideration and thoughtfulness in much of this work (made possible by the ready tools mentioned above), but on the other I recognize that aesthetics are determined by culture, and we find ourselves at a turning point a new aesthetic is forming, and perhaps my satisfaction with it is strictly a personal concern.

 

But, there are individuals who bring to the work of sound art a high level of meticulous attention, who craft sound as carefully as a master printmaker handles woodblocks, ink and paper. Amid the widely varied but largely coherent (and excellently assembled) Tender Landscape show, presently at Agnes Scotts Dalton Gallery, Angus Galloways audio portrait is a superb example.