In college I saw Christian Marclay’s 1989 “Tape Fall,” a piece that features a ladder supporting a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which plays the sound of a waterfall while unspooling a ribbon of tape into a pile on the floor. Then in August 2008 at Vega Estates I saw David Moré’s “THIS MEANS SOMETHING! Close Encounters with Barbara Streisand,” a basement installation in which 8-track cassette tapes shuttled around pillars throughout the space, playing both Streisand and the soundtrack to “Close Encounters” on sixteen speakers, eight of which were adorned with that film’s iconic mashed-potato model of Devil’s Tower. The progression from Marclay to Moré gives me the feeling that the attempt to resolve cultural technology with technological culture is finally maturing into something lots of people can richly appreciate.
At another point in school I saw a video about Kenneth Rinaldo’s 2001 piece “Mediated Encounters,” in which four fish in separate tanks control the movement of robot arms through motion sensors. Now David Moré has again refabulated sci-fi art, this time for a project in which he treats a fish not as an experimental subject but as a collaborator. Alex Halsted, David’s musical partner, is an “elephant nose fish,” a native to rivers in central and western Africa; its Latin name, “gnathonemus petersii,” is the exhibit’s title. The fish navigates and interacts largely through emitting and sensing electrical signals, signals that can be turned into sound. More’s project is to use the musical collaboration with his fish to raise money for the Nigerian Conservation Fund—he already has a busker’s license to perform in public with Alex, and she has music on iTunes. The gallery show will feature CDs, T-shirts, and other Alex merch, a low-power FM station (with paid advertising) that broadcasts their music, an audio installation with speakers built by Moré, the busker cart, and, of course, the fish herself, with whom David will be performing throughout the opening. The show features several promising events, a couple of which include M.C. Schmidt of the experimental group Matmos. (Bert Stabler)
Through November 14 with performances October 13, 14, 20, 21, and November 3 at Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria.