TimeOut New York 

Issue No. 205 August 26-September 2, 1999

 

Review

Bill Jones/Ben Neill, "Pulse 48"

Sandra Gering Gallery, through Sept 11.

by Robert Mahoney

 

With "Pulse 48," artist Bill Jones and composer Ben Neill join

forces to create minimal yet richly metaphorical sound and light

environments. While such collaborations are often awkward

attempts at melding aesthetic traditions that usually have nothing

in common, Jones and Neill manage to meet in the middle:

Neither sound nor light gets the better of the other.

 

Neill provides the sound—a series of electronic pulses that swell

hypnotically before momentarily receding. Jones adds the light in

the form of floor-bound fixtures (which the gallery describes as

"instruments") topped by either orange or green Frisbees, or by

saucer-shaped sleds for kids. The Frisbees, especially, lend the

show an air of playfulness, which reminds me of the beach or the

park, or UFOs. Their do-it-yourself simplicity also prevents the

music from sounding portentous.

 

Oddly, "Pulse 48" makes me think of Jenny Holzer's LED

installations, too—of how her texts spring up at you, out of the

dark, which is always fun. But there's one thing about this show

that bothers me, and that's the arrangement on the floor. It's a pet

theory of mine: While some economists look at whether hemlines

are going up or down to gauge the economy, I look at where art is

displayed—and putting it on the floor, according to my thinking,

generally presages a dip in the market. Thus, my elation at seeing

Frisbees "lofted" on music is shot through with dread.

 

On the other hand, if Jones and Neill had hung their

Frisbees/instruments on the wall, they would have just looked like

clever sconces. So on the whole, I'd have to say that "Pulse 48"

succeeds, though I wonder about the shelf life of these pieces.

Will they be forever condemned to light-related theme shows, or to

being displayed at the Brooklyn Anchorage, or to being set

dressing for some dance performance? Here's hoping that in the

future, the work in "Pulse 48" stays true to this beautifully

ephemeral installation.

 

© 2000. All Rights Reserved. Time Out New York.

 

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