The Making of Transference
Go into the studio with Andy Paiko and Ethan Rose as they work to create a sound installation at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
Transference is a collaborative installation that explores the aural potential of glass – specifically of the vessel. Glass artist Andy Paiko and sound artist/composer Ethan Rose share a mutual interest in re-contextualizing antiquated objects and technologies. In looking for a way to combine their individual interests, Paiko and Rose uncovered the buried histories of the glass harp and glass armonica. Such musical instruments employ a series of glass bowls or goblets of varying sizes; by rubbing a wet finger on a rim of glass, a performer uses friction to create musical tones.The installation, Transference, employs the strangely ethereal sounds of the “singing wine glass” with the aural and physical sensations of seemingly random spinning bowls. In this contemporary interpretation of the glass armonica, the artists remove the performer, relying on electronic composition to trigger movement, vibration and sound in bowls mounted on walls and atop pedestals. This alternative version of a nearly forgotten instrument calls attention to history while simultaneously reminding viewers of the unexpected potential of the deceivingly simple glass bowl.
Through collaboration during all stages, from concept development and design to fabrication and installation, Paiko and Rose use the glass itself as a third contributor and the primary performer in the project. Rather than create and tune vessels to a pre-determined range of tones, the artists instead focused on sounds emitted by the variously sized vessels, letting the material determine tonal qualities for the overall composition. Here, the bowls no longer function as containers of something tangible or solid; this group of transparent glass vessels is, instead, a vehicle for the dissemination of sound. The back and forth between the visual and aural elements of the installation – from the glimmer of a moving glass vessel, the motion of a shadow, and the way glass throws sound making it difficult to identify a source – results in a synesthetic experience in which the ear and the eye are equally engaged.
Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art, Transference centralizes craft as a conceptual vehicle by which contemporary artists can explore history and challenge ideas about functionality. The exhibition serves as a juncture through which a sound artist, Ethan Rose, returns to instrument making, and a glass artist, Andy Paiko, explores a new facet of his chosen medium.
Excerpt from the Transference exhibition essay