A black speaker peeks out from within a black satin pillow—this is Matthew Girson’s new audio work, “The Sleep (of Reason Produces Monsters, I Think).” The piece excerpts the line, “I think, therefore I am not,” from Maurice Blanchot’s book “Thomas l’obscur.” Spoken, the phrase takes three seconds to recite. Girson elongates it to eight days, and the words get lost in a discordant gurgle and hum. This pregnant vibration of sound blankets the entire show. As a result of the hum, each painting seems poised to move, like a video on pause. In one painting, the moon sinks into darkness, while elsewhere Girson’s face appears and then disappears in a deep black ground. Someday Girson intends to broadcast a longer version of “The Sleep” into space. With whom is he communicating? This exhibition is a meditation on vantage points and the distance between places. Messages show the placement of their givers and receivers and let us know the emotional and social importance of those relationships. Mr. Girson’s paintings of the Earth from outer space form a melancholy compliment to the moon paintings. From their celestial vantage they give a feeling that Earth is way down there and that it’s so very far away. (Dan Gunn)
Matthew Girson shows at RowlandContemporary, 1118 West Fulton Market, (312)421- 6275, through January 26.