On June 17, 2020, I published “The Great Equalizer” in Triple Canopy. The essay covers the post-pandemic exchange of faces for interfaces, suits for sweats, presence for liveness, and freedom for safety, as well as serving as an introduction to Two Ears and One Mouth, the magazine’s twenty-sixth issue.
“Can I Leave You?”: Triple Canopy at the RISD Museum
On November 22, 2019, Triple Canopy’s installation Can I Leave You? opened as part of the RISD Museum’s exhibition “Raid the Icebox Now,” which celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the infarmous “Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol.” For the exhibition, Triple Canopy and a number of other artists were commissioned to “create new bodies of work or create a unique curatorial project using the museum as a site for critical, creative production and presentation.” Triple Canopy’s installation involves a collaboration with the collective and fashion label CFGNY and centers on the efforts of Americans to define themselves through products and portrayals of China, whether porcelain bowls or travelogues, whether out of admiration or animus. The installation hinges on a three-channel video with four-channel sound. The exhibition was originally scheduled to close in September 2020, but the museum has been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the exhibition is now likely to close at a later date.
“Parts of Speech”: Triple Canopy and Public Fiction at the MCA Chicago
From January 22 until June 9, 2019, Triple Canopy and Public Fiction presented an exhibition, “Parts of Speech,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The exhibition addressed the role of public speech in the so-called post-truth era, in response to the accelerating diffusion and displacement of authority. “Parts of Speech” included speeches at sites of assembly throughout Chicago by Steffani Jemison, Hari Kunzru, Tomeka Reid, Astra Taylor, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, and Julio Torres, as well as an installation of artworks by Rami George, Liz Magic Laser, David Levine, Nicole Miller, Rodney McMillian, and the Videofreex.
Omniaudience: Triple Canopy in residence at the Hammer Museum
In late 2018, Triple Canopy began a yearlong Public Engagement residency at the Hammer Museum, which ended up continuing for a while longer (and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the culminating event has yet to occur). For the residency, we worked with the L.A.-based artist Nikita Gale on Omniaudience, a series of listening sessions, conversations, performances, and publications that ask: What are the settings in which speech and sound can be heard and have a meaningful impact? How has our ability to listen changed with the development of new technologies for synthesizing, transmitting, capturing, and quantifying expressions? How can we listen in ways that make us more receptive to one another and ensure that a plurality of voices can be heard?
Measuring Device with Organs (Instrumental and A Cappella)
In the spring of 2019, as part of “Moving at the Tempo of a Broken Song,” an exhibition curated by Eugenia Delfini at Bard’s Hessel Museum, I presented Measuring Device with Organs (Instrumental and A Cappella). The installation is an adaptation of Measuring Device with Organs (Triple Canopy, 2018) and includes a two-channel version of the LP alongside new artworks and objects from my collection: personal artifacts, ceramics, hi-fi propaganda, records by Led Zeppelin and ABBA, a textile and artist book by my grandmother, etc. The installation is a listening test—the visitor is prompted to evaluate the accuracy of reproductions of tanpura drones and of the speech of the prototypical Midwestern man—as well as a portrait of an expert listener. Below are a selection of images of artworks, photos of the installation, and a checklist.
“Avatars Don’t Improvise”
In the summer of 2019, I published the essay “Avatars Don’t Improvise” in Angela Bulloch: Euclid in Europe (Hatje Cantz), a book devoted to the work of the eponymous artist. The essay ranges from Bulloch’s columnar sculptures and performances (which involve CGI renderings of her band mates) to the fantasies and disappointments of virtual life, the relatability of automatons, the use of Jungian archetypes in marketing guides, and the transformation of cities into templates from computer-aided-design programs. Purchase the catalogue and/or read the essay below.
Outside the Hit Factory
I’ve been working on a response to the question: why (more) Katy Perry? Which also is a lecture, illustrated with chart-toppers, on the use of consumer-behavior data and neurobiology research in the production of pop songs that are guaranteed to be pleasing to as many listeners as possible—and to avoid confronting listeners with songs that they haven’t already been conditioned to like. The producers of hits like “Roar” and “Can’t Feel My Face” might design insipid products that manipulate our basic impulses, but they also devise an emotional Esperanto that merges all our voices into a single chorus. In the lecture, I ask: do I want to hear a song that perfectly conforms to a numeric representation of my personality? Or a song that transports me to a club where nearly all of humanity mouth the words and grin as if just graduated?