Time Out New York / July 23–29, 2009

"White Noise"
JAMES COHAN GALLERY

The intersection of music and art seems to be something of a topic du jour, with MoMA representing the ’70s avant-garde in “Looking at Music: Side 2” and Martos Gallery staking out a varied sonic territory via a selection of works by Sharon Lockhart, Juliana Paciulli, and Caecilia Tripp. James Cohan has a long-standing penchant for the kind of thematic group shows that can be summarized in a single phrase, so it is no surprise that he has joined the chorus. “White Noise” is a selective intergenerational survey of, as curators Elyse Goldberg and Jessica Lin Cox put it, “sounds to be looked at and objects to be heard.” Theirs is a full and at times cacophonous playlist, but it yields one or two bona fide classics alongside the hits and misses.

Beginning with an “Outdoor Audio Program” broadcast to passersby on 26th Street from speakers above the gallery’s front door, “White Noise” incorporates everything from touchstones like Robert Morris’s charming—and self-explanatory—Box with the Sound of Its Own Making from 1961 to Laurie Anderson’s more oblique installation In the House. In the Fire, made this year. Jim Lambie’s radically remixed album covers and Jamie Shovlin’s faux-vintage poster for a fictional krautrock band are among several works that reflect on the visual language of pop music. Others, like David Moreno’s Quietly Oscillating (2005), in which four Slinky toys respond to the vibes from a connected row of woofers and tweeters, immerse the viewer/listener in abstract sound worlds with distinctive visual echoes of their own.

Image: Jamie Shovlin, Christian Emmerich, 12 March 1979, Berlin Quasimodo (Lustfaust Poster), 2007