Home Architect Trevor Mathison at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of the Arts

Trevor Mathison at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of the Arts

by godlove4241
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“From Signal to Decay: Volume 3,” a compact exhibition of sounds and drawings by Trevor Mathison, curated by Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom and Oliver Fuke, quivers with expectant stillness. It marks the centerpiece of a five-chapter presentation of Mathison’s work through media, the dark wavelengths of which were introduced last year in a more architecturally imposing show (sort of the artist’s first in a British institution) at the Goldsmiths Center for Contemporary Art. At Peltz, Mathison’s experimentation with the sensory capacity of sound technologies continues to reveal new textures, mostly in the form of a dominant, buzzing audio work. He also continues to extract Mathison’s decades-long practice of critical innovation in black industrial sound-making, primarily through his association with other artists, including as a member of the Black Audio Film Collective and longtime collaborator of John Akomfrah.

A series of fifteen graphite drawings – oblique landscapes evoking expanses shrouded in fog, screens filled with static electricity, ghosts in machines – form a corridor within which we are invited to succumb to the empty wonder of the sound harmonies and disharmonies of exposure, view and space. Some feature aircraft shrouded almost entirely in smudged black, while others are more painterly: in one corner is a suggestive monochrome rendition of four sailing ships against a thin, stark white horizon. All of them succeed in drawing out the roaring and anesthetic mysteries of the sound work, also enhanced by the absence of titles and the didactic handling of the exhibition. “It’s just a lot of sound, with no explanation for the fury,” complained a reviewer of the first iteration of “From Signal to Decay.” But the project’s leaning towards the purely sensory complements Mathison’s extraordinary negative abilities, extending an invitation to close your eyes and listen to its quivers across temporal and disciplinary landscapes.

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