Artist: Euan Macdonald
Exhibition title: A Place Like This
Venue: Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp, Belgium
Date: May 2 – June 27, 2015
Photography: Isabelle Arthuis, images courtesy of the artist and Objectif Exhibitions
Sound abounds in Euan Macdonald’s A Place Like This, though it takes many forms. On view in the ground floor and basement spa- ces of Objectif Exhibitions, Macdonald’s solo exhibition is titled after a video he produced in a piano factory in China. The video, pro- jected onto a large screen suspended in the basement, depicts factory workers tuning rows of pianos—unintentionally producing an atonal musical composition, a somnolent acoustic registration of time spent in their daily routine of abstracted labor, from an am- biguous evocative din.
The hue shifts. Throughout the video, the original image becomes increasingly strained under a rouge-colored filter, yet its corresponding sound is encountered first in the ground floor space above. A large sola- rized photograph depicts a vibrating tuning fork and a disembodied hand, which appears to point upwards, from the piano tuners be- neath. An expansive Leporello depicts a back-engineered musical notation of the lay- ered sound produced by a piano endurance testing machine.
A certain resonant frequency is struck from the ground floor to the basement and back, as associations congeal implicitly through repetition and transmogrification. It reverberates further: silkscreened forms of modernist-like grids from the graphic calen- dar systems of daily notebook planners ap- pear to float over blown up details of water in digital prints (from found images, snap shots, calendar and tourist brochure photo- graphy). In 11 frames, specific words from sheet music title pages have been isolated by passepartout to echo the actual message on the back of a found postcard—a descrip- tion of the aftermath of a tidal wave. In proximity to a quiet video of an almost unno- ticeable beam from a distant lighthouse on the edge of an immense rock at sea, a series of altered end papers from an early 20th-cen- tury book of Wordsworth poems have been altered. Their small decorative design of oil and water process has been transformed into a more open spatial form—graphic beams of light shining outwards, revolving across the proto-psychedellic design. A depiction of a mosquito under a cup, or the auditory and visual imagery evoked and likened to a mos- quito under a cup, provides a more linguistic approach to sound.
Macdonald brings together divergent forms of sonic reproductive systems and imaging techniques for photographs, objects, and graphic design, which could be conside- red peripheral events—in the outskirts of factory production, in the expectations of time management, in the forms of partly-for- gotten music distribution, literature, or out- moded graphic design. He considers their ambient forces and the collective perennial influences they exert upon us. A Place Like This operates like that.
Untitled (unforseeable), 2015
Tidal Wave, 2012
Lighthouse with Rock, 2015
Ritardando Poco a Poco, 2012
Mosquito under a paper cup, 2009
A Place Like This, 2015