"E-clipsed: Gary Murphy and sounds by Unthem" at the Chan Gallery, Studio Art Building at Pomona College
On view: July 13 – August 16, 2019
Reception: Saturday, July 13th from 5-9pm
Immersive sound sculptures and other works by Gary Murphy with sounds by Unthem.
Gary Murphy’s work is a sampling of historical styles across the 20th century – Marcel Duchamp, George Maciunas, Donald Judd, H.C. Westermann, and Edward and Nancy Kienholz – appropriating this history of dada, fluxus, minimalism, and installation art and crossing it with heavy metal iconography and sound, he asserts a quasi-dystopian and sometimes tongue-in-cheek humor regarding such production. Murphy’s immersive sound sculptures each containing independent guitar and synthesizer tracks made by the music collective Unthem in the key of E.
Mired in this music and the implicit demonic associations that came with it, Murphy’s works bring us down, literally and figuratively to hell, to the dystopic space of contemporary America, the uber-capitalist society that is crumbling inside while outwardly trying to emphasize its superiority globally. We are an empire in decline, and Murphy’s works, ask us to see what we do not want to see, enveloping us within fractured mirrored speakers that project out the diabolus in musica. They reflect back our images and encapsulate us in the loop of dissonant sounds and self-reflection that entrance and entrap us and leave us caught in the realm of quasi-narcissisian wonderment while forcing upon us this dystopic reality.
The core of Unthem practice is total immersive listening; Murphy and Matt McGarvey’s musical relationship has developed through many years of shared attunement, accident, trance and surprise. The point is to get to a state where the sound organizes itself, or at least where there is little to no conscious awareness of who is making what sound, but an intense sensorimotor and emotive connection with the resonating space, in real time. Unthem is about tuning in and dropping out, in order to let hypnotic and ungrounding patterns evolve. This involves a welcoming attitude towards a decisively dark aspect—in the sense that the unconscious is “dark,” and even more, in the sense that what is behind you or in your periphery will never be illuminated like what you focus on. Unthem is periphery music, anti-solo, anti-focal sound. Ambient, but not Muzak ambient. More like police surveillance ambient; radiation ambient, economy ambient. Unthem gets possessed by what is not seen, not known, but real and determining. Unthem opens up and the real world of power floods through, leaving these massive growling traces. It’s heavy.
Gary Murphy, raised in Claremont, CA and influenced by rock music history, has been the exhibitions designer and preparator for the Pomona College Museum of Art for the past 15 years. Prior to working at Pomona College, he had a fabrication studio in which he fabricated works for various artists and arts institutions across Southern California. He is an artist who creates sound based sculptural environments and objects.