two harpischords with soundtrack, drawings
This work deals, obliquely, with the contradiction in which the reception of my work puts me. The sculpture plays with the notion of authorship, intention, and, more importantly, cultural competency.
Using the same materials and techniques as period instrument builders, I built
two Italian-style harpsichords. In the resonating chamber of each is a speaker
connected to an external sound system. Playing on the speakers is a musical
piece intimately tied with notions of ‘genius’ (the opening aria
to Bach’s Goldberg Variations). The recording of this piece uses the tempo
of Glenn Gould's second recording of this piece as a guide. The end result is
a sculptural work consisting of the two harpsichords with the recorded aria
being played quietly through the speakers.
In addition to the two harpsichords, the installation includes a set of headphones
displayed on a heavy walnut shelf. The headphones are visibly not plugged into
a sound source (although this does not stop viewers from ‘listening’
to them — an event that plays well with the piece). There are also small
drawings of the score (from 2 to 54, depending on how they function within the
How this deals with notions of cultural competency can only be understood if
I come clean and let you know that I am not that good of a wood-worker. In fact,
the only thing that I am worse at than carpentry is playing keyboards (thus
the reason for two harpsichords as I can only manage playing one hand at a time).
From a distance, the piece appears to be two ‘fine’ instruments.
The flaws inherent in my craftsmanship begin to be apparent at the same distance
that the recording becomes audible.
• Solo. “Decoy,” YYZ Artists Outlet (Toronto ON)
• Solo. “Decoy,” Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon SK)
• Ghaznavi, Corinna. “review,” Espace 69 (Fall 2004), p 44-45.
• Lau, Yam. “review,” Parachute 115 (July 2004), p 8 in ParaPara
• Goddard, Peter. “Daily Terror Gives Violence a Black Eye,” The Toronto
Star (20 March 2004), p H9.
• Robertson, Sheila. “Something Useful Salvaged,” Saskatoon Star Phoenix
(23 Feb 2002), p E14.
images of project
soundtrack (2.1mb file)