Art and Sound Meet in Interstitial, an “Aural Architecture” Exhibit by Tyler Adams

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Audio expert and visual artist Tyler Adams (also an alumnus of KCRW) has brought the two worlds together in an art exhibit currently on show at Steve Turner Contemporary. Abe…

Audio expert and visual artist Tyler Adams (also an alumnus of KCRW) has brought the two worlds together in an art exhibit currently on show at Steve Turner Contemporary. Abe Rivera is a graphic designer and contributor to the DnA blog (also an alumnus of KCRW) and wrote this review of the show.

Material Excitement and Aural Architecture

Whether you live in a secluded part of the world or in a large bustling city, sounds will never escape you.  It may be the chirping of birds or a car horn blaring that awakens you in the morning. As unwanted as these sounds may or may not be, the way they are perceived or experienced could very well depend on your surroundings. The complex nature of sound is explored in Tyler Adams’ solo exhibition, Interstitial.

Interstitial in architectural terms means the area between two spaces. It’s the area that is hidden from plain sight where we might find spiral duct (as used for air conditioning), concrete or galvanized sheet metal. In Interstitial Tyler Adams brings these normally hidden or overlooked objects and brings them front and center, allowing them to interact with sound.

Interstitial-rumbleCombining sound with various media such as foil, Styrofoam, wood and plastics Adams provides a wide array of studies demonstrating how sound is altered by these materials. Additionally, sound may be perceived differently when an inaudible frequency is passing through ductwork (square cylinders), such as in the entitled Rumble.  In Rumble, the sound, although too low a pitch to hear by the human ear, has the ability to affect or excite the metal as it bounces against the inner walls of the tubes. This ultimately creates a humming.  Four of these square cylinders work together to form a soundscape. However, is the sound altered by the material or is the material altered by the sound? This conundrum is further explored in Adams’ short film series entitled Pop!

In Pop! Adams films in surround sound a red balloon in different locations and forces the balloon to pop.  The eruption of the balloon creates a sound that differs in a forest from the way it would sound in a freeway underpass.  The burst of sound is at time dulled by its surrounding or echoed in others. These differences may be subtle and sometimes glaring, but more importantly they provide a sense of aural space for the viewer/listener to experience thus providing a unique aural architecture with each film.

Another interactive piece in Interstitial is called Descending. It involves entering a large sonotube (large cylinder for pouring concrete) while presumably a Shepard tone (downward or upward tone) plays inside the tube. That paired with two rows of LED lights blinking upward, creates an auditory and perceptual illusion that you are descending – as in an elevator.  In Descending, Adams further iterates how sound is equally important when it comes to our perception of environment and how objects correlate with sound.

Interstitial delves into the spatial aspects of sound and explains that sound is complicated and all the more interesting because of that. The exhibit lasts through June 29, at Steve Turner Contemporary, 6026 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323-931-3721