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The Sound of One Gallery Clapping

A room tone test from the Fridman in Manhattan

Like so many so-called “non-essential” businesses, art galleries largely sit empty right now. Some have been finding uses for the social distance, maintaining connections — and building new ones — through virtual events. The Fridman Gallery in Manhattan, for example, has been hosting live performances, under the title Solos, starting back on May 14. The gallery’s Vimeo page just yesterday uploaded a 12-minute video titled “SOLOS 04 – Room Noise Test.” Presumably it’s for the event scheduled tomorrow, June 23, at 8pm New York time (5pm here, I say to myself, as I enter it into my calendar). The footage, which is continuous and unedited, opens with actual room tone: near silence against the sheer absence of visible activity, aside from cars passing in the street just outside the distant glass front. Then a voice begins speaking and there is clapping, signals testing out the space’s reverberations (the sound of one gallery clapping, as it were), and the actual reverb on what must be the house sound system. There’s an extended bit of reverb right around 10:30, the echo so long and deep that sounds layer atop each other, spoken statements rendered unintelligible as the syllables cascade into a pile. The video is a strange thing, and a welcome one for someone who is used to spending lots of time in art galleries and who hasn’t been in one since February.

Video originally post at vimeo.com. More about the series at fridmanlive.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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