ALEKSANDRA CHCIUK UNI – PARTYTURY
Uni-Partytury [Uni – Scores]
1 Feb. – 30 March 2019
Curator Grzegorz Musiał
Signum Foundation Gallery
85 Piotrkowska Street Łódź
Uni-Partytury [Uni – Scores] are a continuation of the “Szpilen” series initiated in 2012.
The new works made for the exhibition at Signum Foundation Gallery have been expanded with the soundtrack, created with the active participation of the viewer. The works are performative in nature and their final shape depends on the activity of the audience, whose movement activates the sensors built into the image.
Describing the Szpilen” series, the artist says “that the idea behind it is the clash of two elements: male and female. The tensions created between them generate biological constellations arranged into musical scores. The cycle is inspired by Władysław Strzemiński’s painting ideas and the Unist music by Zygmunt Krauze”.
Aleksandra Chciuk is an audiovisual artist, pianist and composer. In 2015 she graduated from the Łódź Film School, having studied under Józef Robakowski. In addition, she is a graduate of the University of Łódź and secondary music school. Her artistic interests include video art, photography and assemblages. She creates film miniatures.
During her performances she often plays the piano. In her projects she explores sound phenomena and their impact on the state of mind and body reaction. In her artistic practice she analyzes psychological and musical relations between humans and nature.
In an audio performance recently realized in the Łódź synagogue, the artist inscribed herself in the context of the place. However, she did it in a very subtle way, without imposing the narrative attributed to the place on the attendees of the event.
Minimalistic sound was only a stimulus to build a relationship between the symbolic space of the place and the silent audience.
The artist like to thank for cooperation: Marcin Garncarek -– soundtrack (Ableton software) and Szymon Malański – electronics (Arduino hardware and software).
The exhibition is accompanied by the text of Antoni Michnik
Aleksandra Chciuk’s paintings from the Uni-Partytury [Uni – Scores] series presented at the Signum Foundation gallery, found their paradoxical and complex way into the history of the intermedia dialogue with Władysław Strzemiński’s work. A dialogue that continues unceasingly not just in the field of visual arts, but also, for example, among Łódź composers, starting with the Unistic compositions by Zygmunt Krauze.
At first it was an indirect dialogue. Uni-Partytury is the culmination of a longer series Szpilen, developed by the artist since 2012. The first Szpilen emerged as a response to the compositions by Krauze, not Strzemiński. Chciuk intercepted the ongoing artistic dialogue, gave it a new dynamic and “rippled the discourse”, visually reinterpreting individual aspects of the works by the author of Five Unistic Compositions.
Subsequent painting compositions from the Szpilen series became the starting point for instrumental interpretations, painterly scores for individual instrumentalists, assembled in groups, like paintings are arranged into a series or an exhibition. Captured as live sound installations (SzpilMuzik, 2017), they became both scores of performances inscribed into the typical timeframe of a contemporary music concert (the exhibition Avan_granda, Miejska Galeria Sztuki, 2017), and longer durational performances (the exhibition Szpilen. Pełzną nie wiadomo gdzie. [They Crawl Somewhere, No One Knows Where], Punkt Odbioru Sztuki, 2017; Musica Moderna, 2018). Their structural properties and coded reinterpretations of individual aspects of Krauze’s composition are then brought out again – but in a different, if not monstrous, way. Is it a case of translatorial “Chinese whispers”, a distant echo of an idea to which only a fragment of the Polychromies used during one of the performances (Avan_granda exhibition) directly refers? Rather, it is a cycle of transformations in an endless loop of layers of creative acts and breaks.
The sound inscribed into the silent (or is it?) image can also be found in some of Chciuk’s photographs from the series Koniec z Błotem [Down with Mud] – in Świsty [Whistles] the title refers us to the imagined audiosphere of the captured moment, in Piski [Squeaks] it rather suggests structural affinity of the image with the visuality of spectrograms and spectral scores. Chciuk repeatedly stresses the importance of the emotional dimension of composition in her work and these two photographs illustrate two strategies of transmedia translation based on affective translation. We can supplement the absent sound through the emotional message between the image and the title – either through associations between landscape and soundscape, or by metaphorizing the structure through the subconscious way of visualizing sound.
In one of Chciuk’s most recent works, the image directly enters the territory of sound, optical sensors placed in one of the Uni-Partytury (Grajobraz [Playscape]) activate the prerecorded music. Between the surface of the painting, speakers, sensors and the receiver who activates it, a space of sculpture is created, filled with sound matter. The music aspect consists of variable tone configurations generated by the position in relation to individual sensors. In the case of the Uni-Partytury, the key to the sonic sculpting of space is interactivity, i.e. the presence and action of the audience. At this point, Chciuk’s latest works elaborate on her earlier explorations at the intersection between composition (both visual and musical) and performance. An important element of Chciuk’s oeuvre are performances, often camera-based, meditating between sound and visual illusions (video works included in the series Koniec z Błotem – Harmonia [Haromony], Archeopteryx, Mrówkojad [Anteater]) and also between the physique of images and the performance of music (Variation On Black, 2014). Here, it is a similar tension – it is the body that activates the sound that is an extension of the image.
All the images from the Szpilen series use industrial materials – previously nails, staples, etc., and nowadays microprocessors, transistors and integrated circuits. The artist thinks of them as post-humanistic microorganisms, thus identifying herself with the tradition of (post)modernism that interprets the image in organic categories. Expanding the display with a sound element activated by movement broadens the network of these meanings. After all, it is precisely this “motion” that constitutes the key element of mediation between two strata of the so-called “organic metaphor” on the ground of visual arts, or a ripple that brings together various categories within the discourse. This is an image of the movements of bodies captured in photos to optimize the work, as well as the movement of the machine compared to the elements of nature. Finally, it is the movement read as an image and controlling the machine – in the case of Uni-Partytury, with arduino plates, Ableton software and loudspeakers. The introduction of sensors gives the images a personal space – do we not feel the violation of the space when, after crossing the marked line in the gallery, we hear an alarm? In this sense, the constellations of microorganisms in Aleksandra Chciuk’s works gain personal space for their circular bodies.
These works address the gallery experience itself, resonating in an interesting way with the contemporary narrative-dramaturgical turn in thinking about exhibitions. SzpilMuzik introduces a tension between the “gallery” and the “concert” perception. After all, the strategy of image interpretation proposed in SzpilMuzik refers to the classical gallery experience – careful contemplation of individual images from the points designed for them. Chciuk shows that this situation generates a certain amount of energy – or rather a collection of energy bundles for each work on display – which creates a real, variable, living gallery space. Entering into individual interactions with the works, we somehow perform individual parts within the narratively designed whole. The sound of our experience is created by a collective performance, which – like any other – also has its audiosphere, spanning between the acoustics of the rooms, the sounds of the exposition itself (from the noise of lights and air conditioning to the steps of security guards) and the audience itself.
This time it is the audience that activates the audio, performs bodily practices that enable them to “play” the images through a sequence of gestures, as if they were playing the theremin. Thus, the audience actively and performatively co-creates the changing space of the exhibition. Does such an approach not also emphasize the changeability of gallery conditions of perception of the visual aspect of the works? Starting from the display (position, mutual arrangement, wall color, lighting) to the conditions associated with the presence of other viewers, who are at the same time listeners.
With their matter, the abstract audio-visual constellations of Uni-Partytury refer to Jean Tinguely’s sonic experiments (combination of speakers with material-organic thinking), as well as thoe by Robert Rauschenberg and Lynn Hershmann-Leeson (use of sensors), but perhaps most of all to the works by Atsuko Tanaka (spatial approach to sound in a gallery situation). In a way, these are works from a different era, when intermedia relations between the image and sound constituted the main front of neo-avant-garde, multi-, trans- and intermedia explorations carried out with the hope of broadening the understanding of the image, explorations made in spite of the modernist understanding of painting, but still in dialogue with it, explorations that were postmodern in the truest sense of this word. And so are the works that make up this exhibition.
Signum Foundation Gallery, ul. Piotrkowska 85, Łódź