TimeOut New York
Issue No. 205 August 26-September 2, 1999
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
© 2000. All Rights Reserved. Time Out New York.