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TURN IT UP! Osborn’s “Standing Wave.”

The title is meant to refer to the patterns of sound waves as well as the bobbing of the speaker poles. Arms that look like microphones (but aren't) spin intermittently around the bottom of each pole. You wonder if they're somehow monitoring you, but I'm told the installation is "viewer indifferent." Instead, mics inside cylinders at the bottom of the poles record the motor sounds inside for computer processing. What do we hear? Something like motors, helicopters, traffic on a highway, occasional industrial toots, wind, jet engines — basically something like machines rushing by.

In some ways the piece feels like a sketch; five devices feel too few. What if there was a forest of a couple dozen of them? Also there's a kind of standard electronic-mechanical rumble/howl/drone that pervades sound and video art — and always seems to be echoing through museums and galleries these days. It appears to be inspired by playing with machines, but the limits of this vocabulary and of the artists' invention too often result in sound that doesn't distinguish itself. "Sound Wave" struggles with this challenge. Osborn gives his machines character, but the sound they produce is ordinary.

Read Greg Cook's blog at  gregcookland.com/journal.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Brown University, Bell Gallery, Ed Osborn
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