March 2 – April 13, 2011

Seeing Sound

Gordon Monahan

Organized by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in partnership with the Doris McCarthy Gallery, Blackwood Gallery, Thames Art Gallery, Owens Art Gallery, Kenderdine Art Gallery, Tom Thomson Art Gallery and singuhr − hoergalerie berlin

Gordon Monahan’s works for piano, loudspeakers, video, kinetic sculpture and computer-controlled sound environments hybridize various genres from science, music, performance art and avant-garde concert music to multimedia installation and sound art. As a composer and sound artist, he juxtaposes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of natural acoustical phenomena with elements of media technology, environment, architecture, popular culture and live performance.

Seeing Sound is a thirty year overview of this internationally renowned sound and multimedia artist’s career. The exhibition is co-presented by the DMG and:

MacLaren Art Centre February 26 - May 29
Robert McLaughlin Gallery April 16 - June 12
Blackwood Gallery April 17 - May 22

The DMG will be exhibiting four major works by Monahan, including the DMG’s first-ever outdoor installation. In A Piano Listening to Itself (2011), piano wire stretches from the rooftop of a building to a piano situated on the ground. The wires are moved by the wind and amplified by the piano’s soundboard. Subtle changes in the wind impact the harmonic content of the sound, blurring the line between naturally and electronically produced music. Music From Nowhere (1989) fills the gallery space with speaker cabinets in which the loudspeakers have been replaced with mechanical sound-producing sculptures. The result is a concrete composition that cleverly plays with notions of high and low fidelity, the possibilities of acoustical illusion, and the sonic history embodied in every loudspeaker cabinet. Other works to be exhibited at the DMG include Theremin Pendulum (2008), in which a flexible theremin antenna is mechanized to swing as a chaotic pendulum, causing changes in pitch in relation to its motion, and Piano Airlift (2006), an earlier Aeolian Piano piece developed with celebrated photographer Thaddeus Hollownia.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major trilingual (English/French/German) monograph, marking the first time a Canadian sound artist will be examined in the historical context of national and international sound art. The publication will include essays by Gabriele Knapstein (curator at Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin) and Earl Miller (Toronto-based writer/curator).

About the Artist

Musician and multimedia artist Gordon Monahan has created works ranging from piano compositions to sound installations. Since 1978, he has performed and exhibited at numerous performance spaces, museums, galleries, and festivals, including Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Venice Biennale, the Secession (Vienna), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Mak Museum (Vienna), The Kitchen (NY), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Merkin Hall (NY) and Massey Hall (Toronto). Monahan began his career as a pianist, but in the late 1970s began creating multimedia installations and constructing sound sculptures, often using natural forces in his work. Monahan has been Artist-in-Residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1990), the Exploratorium in San Francisco (1991), D.A.A.D., Berlin (1992-93), the Western Front, Vancouver (1999), Podewil, Berlin (2002), Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2006), Museumsquartier, Vienna (2008), and a fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts (1991). From 2000 -2004, he also led the Berlin-based group Fuzzy Love, performing on electric organ.

Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Museums Assistance Program (Department of Canadian Heritage), Toronto Arts Council and Manulife Financial.