Please DO Touch: Sweet Gongs Vibrating
San Diego Art Institute
On view through May 29, 2016
Article by Cathy Breslaw
Please DO Touch is the credo of this multi-media, multi-sensory group exhibition curated by Amanda Cachia, San Diego Art Institute’s Curator-in-Residence. This exhibition is as much about Cachia’s passion to “combat the ocularcentrism in our gallery and museum system” (curator’s essay), as it is to present the art of the 20 local, national and international artists using multiple modes of expression in their works. Cachia’s focus is on altering the viewer’s perception of ‘art’ – a shift from the solely visual as is the standard in our institutions of art culture, to art that includes all the senses – including touch, hearing, smell and taste. The result is a collection of works giving audiences an opportunity to fully engage – to interact to create sounds, using mallets hitting metal-casted objects (Aaron McPeake,’s Vibrating Gongs, 2007-2010), to make sounds by simply picking up McPeake’s Singing Bowls (2011) and listening to sounds created by touch, to activate lights through the creation of making sounds (Cooper Baker’s Giant Spectrum 2016), activating sounds by spinning wheels made of wood to produce various clicking sounds made by plastic straps and rods placed behind the wheels (Aren Skalman, Wheels, 2015), and Margaret Noble’s works A Score for Conversation (2014) and Head in the Sand (2015), which asks audiences to activate sound and reverberations based on the speed of touch.
A series of videos highlight sensory experiences such as Diane Borsato’s video Cemetery (2015) in which viewers observe a woman eating an ice cream cone from start to finish, hearing repetitive ‘licks and slurps’, as well as other listening to environmental noises. In the video performance by an operatic singer, DivaReDux (2013), Stefani Byrd and Amy Alexander use music to speak about expressing the emotions of love, sorrow, joy and grief emphasizing the face as one of the most expressive part of the body. Through these and many more significant art works, Cachia convinces us that we are capable of experiencing and perceiving art on many levels through more than the visual – including auditory, tactile and olfactory sensations that have the capacity to deepen and expand our connection to art and to the world around us. Don’t miss this one of a kind experience.