This exhibition (“On the Edge of Perceptibility – Sound Art” at the Mucsarnok in Budapest, Hungary) was completely different from any exhibit that I have ever been to before. The Mucsarnok will be hosting the exhibit until the 23rd of November 2014 so get there if you can. If you can’t, I expect great things from this museum so check it out the next time you are in Budapest.
“On the Edge of Perceptibility” looks at sound as a medium in the visual arts. The exhibit addresses the limits of perception with a focus on, no surprise here, sound. The works in the exhibition highlight this medium rather than attempt to create a timeline of its use. Both international and Hungarian artists contributed to the exhibition. Let me tell you, it was cool. To quote Matt, “The best part about this exhibition is that I can touch it…” The museum professional in me slightly started to panic and I’m sure Matt saw it in my eyes so he said, “… with my ears.” Matt’s a really tactile person so there’s always a conversation of why things can’t be touched even though he never actually touches any of the objects. But I digress. You are let into this first room where hundreds of speakers dangle from the ceiling emitting various white noise sounds. These sounds change as the light changes throughout the day. Pretty cool, huh? The doorways between the rooms are covered with two curtains of heavy cloth on each side. This helps to dull the noise from the other rooms but it also creates this feeling of going from one world into another. As we move from the first well-lit room to the second room with three tea kettles on pedestals illuminated in this dimly-lit room with this calming sound enveloping me, I turn to Matt and whisper, “I feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland.”
The work these artists have done and the way the curators and designers set the exhibition up is superb. Each room is its own little world unique from all the others. It manages to really get across the theme of perception of sound. I enter one room with daylight streaming through three windows while sounds of wind fill the room. I go to another room where there is this alien, magical, entrancing music that fits perfectly with the moving projections on the wall that, in my mind, can only be described as the way water looks when you lay on the bottom of a pool and look up at the sunlight playing on the surface. I cuddled up on one of the bean bags in that room and wanted to stay there all day. (Anybody who knows me knows that I love water.) Another room has an interactive piece where the closer you get to the rocks in the center of the room, the image projected on the rocks as well as the accompanying sound changes. There’s also a completely dark room where only one person is permitted to enter at a time. The exhibit responds to your movements and changes the noise based on what you do. I must have stepped too close to a sensor or something because the loudest noise was made that caused me to cover my ears and bolt from the room. Don’t forget that I was in complete darkness and was not expecting it at all.
The exhibition was an adventure. Matt was so pleased and fascinated to see art that he could interact with so completely. I have to say that I felt the same way. It was different and refreshing after seeing a lot of the same medium so often during our trip. It was one of the exhibits on my backpacking journey that completely surprised me and will be something I won’t soon forget.