Absence is a void to be filled with one’s own stories. I find silence is much more powerful because … in silence we can think about sound. Silence is the negative space that defines sound
Artist Christian Marclay, in a 1997 interview
The Nasher Museum presents Christian Marclay: Surround Sounds, a large-scale, synchronized silent video installation that consists of animated onomatopoeias projected onto four walls of a darkened room. Marclay drew from a collection of comic books, cutting out sound effects and animating them in a choreography that suggests the acoustic properties of each word. “Whizz” and “zoom” speed across the walls; “beep” blinks persistently, while “thump” falls rhythmically onto the floor. Although silent, the work plays like a musical composition, merging the aural with the visual and providing an immersive perceptual experience.
A symphonic maelstrom of illustrated words, the silent Surround Sounds speaks only through our recollection of noise. The viewer hears with their eyes, building an imagined auditory narrative that is both collective and personal. In keeping with Marclay’s persistent interest in sampling, the appropriated graphics rely on a shared aesthetic: familiar bright colors and bold, expressive font suggest the action of a superhero’s storyline. Yet, conversely, the silent intimate dark room insists on an individual and private internal narrative.
Surround Sounds is on loan from Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, New York.