Anne Guthrie, Virginia Overton, François Bonnet
FAG 004 Gatefold LP
Sculpture Gardens consists of musical compositions by Anne Guthrie, an installation by visual artist Virginia Overton, and an essay by French theorist and musician François Bonnet. Their work engages questions central to long established and emerging conversations, most notably how paradigmatic terms like temporal and spatial, found and composed remain contingent upon institutional, historical and environmental factors.
Visual artist Virginia Overton’s work is associated with improvisation and site-specificity. She often utilizes materials that respond to environmental conditions and encourage viewer interaction. Sculpture Gardens (2016), Overton’s installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, functions as an ecosystem of sorts, consisting of large aluminum ponds housing a variety of plant life and aerated by two silhouetted windmills, which in turn respond to the conditions of the Whitney’s fifth floor deck. Adjacent to this outdoor component and separated by a wall of large glass windows, a gallery space holds several sculptures made from reclaimed wood, everyday objects and metal pipes, among other materials. As fall turned to winter, Sculpture Gardens was reconfigured as Winter Garden (2016-2017): the ponds were emptied and inverted, creating drumhead-like objects that further amplified their sonic possibilities.
Sound artist Anne Guthrie’s investigation of Overton’s work began with field recordings of the installation, the outdoor patio space on which most of it was positioned, the wind coming off the Hudson River, the street sounds below, as well as the more hermetic confines of the Whitney’s gallery spaces. Using hydroponic and contact microphones, Guthrie makes certain silent sounds audible, offering the listener access to the inside and outside of the installation. The subsequent compositions delicately mix electronic treatments, French horn and synthesizer, furthering her interest in non-musical sounds and the natural acoustic phenomena of architectural space.
François Bonnet’s commissioned essay, “Emanations,” forwards the argument made in his book, The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago (URBANOMIC, 2012). These texts explore how listening, the value accredited to sound, and the meaning ascribed to the audible changes through time. “Emanations” reconsiders the early avant-garde innovation of the found object in relation to the temporality of sound, revealing the impermanent, changing nature of both. This text suggests the category of art shares much in common with the mystery, uncertainty and environmental unpredictability of this installation. And like this collaboration, Guthrie’s recording highlights the tentative and fleeting conditions of what Bonnet describes as an ongoing and open notion of the aesthetic, “accompanied, assisted, and constrained . . . [by a] set of invisible fluxes and forces” that shape perception.