Two small solo shows are nestled in the upstairs of the domestic gallery, Important Projects in Oakland. McIntyre Parker’s short film is located in Gallery 1, Sarah McMenimen’s sound piece is in Gallery 2. I have been to previous shows at this gallery and have been admiring the engaging and provocative curatorial focus.
Parker’s short film is situated along the floor-line, and the viewer must look down at it or sit in front of it, which I do. The footsteps of the videographer crunching sharply on a pebbly path overshadow the continuous gaze focusing on a shoreline tree. The lighting is harsh, the horizon white-washed, the color ordinary. The camera movement is jerky at times, as if there were a stumble, and another time the shot abruptly stops then in a beat starts again at the same tree. This tree is not special, and there is nothing satisfying here. Yet if that is the point, then it could be made more evident with clear shifts or disruptions in editing, in sound or in color that would allude to a gratifying dissatisfaction. As I watched the film again, the whistling from the other room draws my attention away.
I sit to listen to McMenimen’s sound piece: “Whistling into a microphone in my studio for 26:56”. The windows are open, and I can hear sounds from the picturesque neighborhood where the gallery is located intermingle with traffic and other urban background noises in the piece. The whistling comes in and out in varying degrees and in assorted incantations, patterns and undulations. Sometimes cheery, sometimes quirky little riffs, the whistling comes across like an exercise in documenting various sounds for future use. One moment the whistling sounds human, the next machine. The harsh, muddling spray of white noise from breath hitting hard on the top of the microphone is a distraction. I want the pristine version of breath and the lyricism of the whistling to supersede the activity itself, thereby rendering focused listening despite a seemingly nonsensical purpose.
Last night after leaving the space, I am left with the jarring moments which drew attention to the ideas of a ubiquitous “random” by “the amateur”.
For more information visit here.
-Contributed by Leora Lutz