Synthesize (verb): to compose or combine parts or elements so as to form a whole.
Synthesize: Art + Music presents a wide array of visually and aurally dynamic pieces that underscore the ways artists synthesize, compose, and bring together the visual and sonic in unpredictable ways. Consisting of video, sculpture, and installation, the exhibition reveals how artists remix classical and pop music, electronic beats, instruments, and music videos to form multilayered connections between visual art, music, film, and popular culture. At times, musical instruments are created from unexpected objects or animated lines. At others, singers and bodily movements explore the relationship between rock stars and fandom. Rich with musical and cultural references, Synthesize is a thought-provoking investigation about the potential of and relationship to music in visual form.
Pushing the boundaries of both art and music, the works on view highlight various ways in which visual arts make music. For example, French composer and artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot outfits vacuum cleaners with harmonicas and sound-frequency analyzers. As the vacuums turn on and off, sucking air into the harmonicas, they produce an unpredictable, fortuitous orchestration of instruments.
In The Conductor, African-American artist Rashaad Newsome combines clips culled from rap music videos with selections from composer Carl Orff's classical masterpiece “Carmina Burana,” a piece of music that has itself been widely sampled in pop culture. The music video footage has been edited to isolate and remix shots of the rap artists' hand gestures so they appear to be conducting Orff's orchestra, a juxtaposition that allows Newsome to playfully break down boundaries between seemingly opposed cultural form.
Throughout the exhibition, the remix attitude takes center stage as it incorporates numerous visual and musical references and challenges our understanding of what each medium can be. Featured artists include Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, James Clar, Farrah Karapetian, Rashaad Newsome, Lyle Owerko, Robin Rhode, and Julianne Swartz.