Puffy Headphones Make Sculpture Sound Better

In Ben Hirschkoff's sculpture, Attempted Rain Mechanical Refrain, skinny wires descend from a curvy, Plexiglas cloud. Swinging like slow pendulums, each wire scratches a curved line into the aluminum surface of the piece: a gray sky marked with rain. On a quiet day, you'll hear the scratching from the opposite end of the gallery. Don a set of puffy headphones, and the tiny sounds are amplified, resonating as bigger than the movements in front of you. The noise of these delicate wires brings to mind experimental sound makers like John Cage and John Zorn, in the way their music is both cacophonous and pleasurable (and also, if you listen long enough, decidedly too much). Wearing the headphones, you enter a slower place, a public/private space. (Like being on a cell phone on a busy street, you're in your own world.) You might wonder, is the sound created by the movement of the wires, or are the wires choreographed to music from an invented instrument—a metal-stringed cello, perhaps? The music is live, though as the artist says, "The possible implication of additional sounds or the manipulation of the sound plays to the enigmatic narrative of the work." "Atmosphere Attached" features other fabricated clouds and collages made from heavy-duty tape. Using industrial materials, Hirschkoff's work flattens clouds into objects that seem to be inspired by cartoons or graphic design, a playful visual shorthand for these complex weather systems. Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Pl. S., 296-7580, www.4culture.org. Free. Ends Oct. 26.

 
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