Artereal Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition MEDUSA 0.1, by sound artist Robin McCarthy. McCarthy’s predominantly theatre based practice has incorporated sound design, installation and original score for numerous international theatre companies, festivals and recordings. For the first time in Australia, McCarthy will exhibit MESDUSA 0.1 in a gallery setting.
In MEDUSA 0.1, the artist presents a soundscape of a post apocalyptic time, told through a series of audio tubes distributed in the project space. For much of the performance a number of these tubes remain silent, only sporadically contributing to the harmonising chorus of the narrative, stemming from a central hub, or ‘black box’ – a record or history of McCarthy’s subterranean staging. These portholes guide the viewer into the artist’s fractured narrative of environments, or perhaps more appropriately, scenes. These are most certainly linked to the product of image making, an exercise of the aural molding and seducing ones comprehension (and wonder) of a world existing outside our own. These audio cues create story, or an aura, one difficult to alienate from the desire to attach imagery. It is here that McCarthy employs his open narrative to great effect.
In two particular scenes, McCarthy presents the listener with a space of industrial workings, the mechanized, repetitive movements of heavy machinery that shake and dominate these soundscape. This in turn is contrasted with a lobby, where elevator music and melodic tunes are interrupted by uncanny intermissions and jarring, which suggest that the world we are eavesdropping upon contains an underbelly of acute distaste and lurking menace. It is the intersection of these types of scenes that elevate a sense of tension in McCarthy’s work. These disjointed moments and places seem to seamlessly break and join again, to collide, intersect and interfere with one another, their opposing existence propping each other up.
The psycho-narrative and sci-fi tone of McCarthy’s MEDUSA 0.1, along with the fracturing of its soundscapes can be linked to the cinematic works of David Lynch or Chris Marker’s La Jetée. Here one can see the influence of such work on the psyche, its evolution, susceptibility and control of our recognition and experience of reality- where narrative impacts the psychological state and vice versa. However, while this may be accurate in the stylistic tone of MEDUSA 0.1, the influence of 80’s and 90’s indie film of McCarthy’s generation should not be overlooked. The intersection of narrative and social structures in films such as Harmony Korine’s Gummo and Richard Linklater’s Slacker, where the audience is presented with pieces, or fragments of a social sphere, where the overarching tone is developed not by a linear narrative, but by placing together the ingredients of a ‘place’ or ‘time’ and allowing them to speak for themselves by painting a picture of the ‘greater’ environment, not just a singular beginning and end of an individual story. This same technique is employed in MEDUSA 0.1, where the audience and listener navigates only the peepholes to a world where characters are never properly introduced, formulating their own structures, hierarchies and reasoning.
Robin McCarthy is a sound designer, composer and creator. He has been sound designer for The Sydney Theatre Company, NIDA and Autograph, London. McCarthy has collaborated with artists and musicians as well as filmmakers, where he created the sound design to the animated short Gristle winner of the Melbourne International Animation Festival (2012) as well as being part of the official selection for numerous Australian and International film festivals.
- Matt Glenn (Curator)