A Convention of Tiny Movements, Objects, subjects, spies


Look around on a typical day at an exhibition of modern and contemporary art and you’ll probably find curious students in search of inspiration; professionals (who always seems to be doing something important); invigilators counting down the hours; loving couples loitering, glad of an excuse to spend a day together; middle-aged women out to discover new truths… With an audience so heterogeneous, works of art are protagonists on the side-lines. Misunderstood, misinterpreted, sometimes abused – enormous hangars full of whispers and comments. How to deal with it all? Comfortable shoes, close attention, and, of course, a snack. But when the snack is part of an installation we’ve reached an era where works of art really approach the viewer, causing any number of thoughts, paranoia, a smile, and even a small supply of carbohydrates. Sound artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s installation A Convention of Tiny Movements is commissioned by the Armory Show in New York. The work engages with a discovery made by computer scientists at MIT who, by recording high-speed video of objects as they were hit by the sound waves, were able to extract the microscopic vibrations produced, reconstructing the original sound. Objects such as a potted plant, a glass of water and a potato chip packet, posing in plain sight, welcome on their surfaces all the sounds generated around them. Visual microphones are positioned in the space, creating a futuristic situation in which objects are no longer simply objects, but become listeners, or perhaps transmitters. 5,000 packages of potato chips, with this explanation printed on the back, were left available for visitors throughout the exhibition, the potential spies of a near future. Benedetta Sabatini