Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Ambient Jukebox & Other Stories, an exhibition of new work by multidisciplinary artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Atmospheric, dreamlike, and theatrical, the duo’s work often explores how sound affects perception. This will be the artists’ second solo exhibition with the gallery since 2018. A public reception with the artists will take place on Saturday, January 13, from 2-4pm.
In Cosmic Disco, tiny points of light reflected from altered mirrorballs fill a darkened room to create the illusion of slowly moving galaxies, accompanied by a soundtrack drawn from recordings of planets and moons made by NASA’s Voyager I and II. The piece immerses viewers in illusory reflections and otherworldly sounds, encouraging contemplation of the universe and humans’ place in it. In another room, Ambient Jukebox repurposes a familiar-looking 1960s jukebox. Rather than playing pop hits, it has been reprogrammed to spin drone-like tunes created by Bures Miller during the disorienting months of the global pandemic. As in many of their pieces, Cardiff and Bures Miller invite the viewer to activate the piece—selecting the tracks creates a singular experience of the work and transforms the iconic object into something unfamiliar and surprising.
A range of more intimate works populate the third gallery. Combining paintings, found materials, soundtracks, and audio musings, these works explore the ways in which narrative, music, and sound influence the viewer’s interpretation of visual elements. Playful sculptural collages, made in part from studio scraps left over from earlier works, are inspired by constructivist ideas. In one, a collage made from rough wooden shapes, pieces of torn paper, and a tuft of blonde hair spins on a round pedestal as speakers play a hypnotic soundtrack of layered voices. Other works juxtapose moody oil paintings with fragments of found text, exploring the power of words even when inaudible.
Suitcases appear in several works. A vintage suitcase is transformed into a theater, replete with curiously crafted doll-like characters and a range of scenarios that play on a small screen facing the ‘stage.’ Another suitcase is modified with a gramophone speaker through which Cardiff’s dreamlike voice quavers the World War I marching song Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile by George and Felix Powell, a song which in time has been sung by forces on all sides of many conflicts.