RVW | Soundforge
With cacophonous din and delicate, tinkling sounds, Soundforge combines two rich disciplines.
By Alanna Risse, MFA LRVS ’15
If you haven’t made it out to Museum of Contemporary Craft to see the Soundforge exhibition, you’d better hurry; it will only be up until September 21st and you really don’t want to miss it. In the Museum’s Upper Gallery, metalsmith Gabriel Craig and composer Michael Remson bring the natural rhythm and inherent musicality of metalsmithing to life with three large, interactive xylophone-like sculptures and invite us to play along using sixteen beautiful hand-carved wooden mallets of varying shapes and sizes. All the metal bars in the pieces are forged to a note in the F minor pentatonic scale, so any notes you play complements Remson’s audio/video piece running on loop in the back of the gallery.
The musical composition by Michael Remson is a blend of inspirations from gamelan music to the minimalist works of Philip Glass. The metalsmith’s hypnotizing music video depicts repeating shots from the making of the metal bars edited in time with the music.
The people watching when the Museum is hopping can be even more fun than playing the piece yourself. People’s interactions range from timid to aggressive. While some choose to play along with the recorded musical accompaniment, many keep time to the beat of their own drum. At times the Museum is filled with a cacophonous din; at other times, a delicate tinkling sound whispers through the room.
Metalsmithing and music are the perfect pair. When metal is forged, sound is generated, and people naturally want to create rhythm. This idea is the inspiration behind Soundforge. And what better place than Portland to explore the full potential of a piece that seeks to combine the two disciplines.
Gabriel Craig has a deep interest in spreading the “gospel of craft.” Several of his projects have centered around sharing the empowering feeling of working with your hands. He’s held workshops on copper bowl making and taken to the streets to share the craft of jewelry making as a means of encapsulating memory. He wants to break the craft object out of its fetishized, consumerist box and unleash its full potential as a bartering tool, community strengthener, and confidence builder. In his eyes, anyone can become a master craftsperson and everyone should.
Watch a two-minute video of Soundforge from a previous installation at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft:
Soundforge by Gabriel Craig and Michael Remson is on view at Museum of Contemporary Craft, in Portland, OR, through September 21, 2013. The exhibition is curated by Anna Walker and organized by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft