Barbara Freeman & Paul Wilson: Banks of the Bann, 31 Mar – 28 May 2005
Banks of the Bann | Barbara Freeman & Paul Wilson
31 March – 28 May 2005
MCAC is proud to present ‘Banks of the Bann’ the fourth and final of the ‘Inverting Conventions’ exhibitions. This exhibition epitomises the term “Inverting Conventions’ by demonstrating how art can make one see the familiar and mundane through fresh and inquisitive eyes. ‘Banks of the Bann’ is the third collaboration between Belfast based Artist Barbara Freeman and the Downpatrick Composer Paul Wilson. Together they have produced an installation that explores the sounds and images of the River Bann in a way that emphasises the majesty and mystery that surrounds the river.
The exhibition consists of a structure of hanging steel plates, which are wired for sound and connected to a complex of miniature cameras, loudspeakers and a computer system programmed to create sounds triggered by the viewer’s presence. These sounds never repeat themselves and vary in audio-level depending on how close you are to the piece. This creates a natural interaction between the artwork and the viewer. It is a very significant metaphor for the overall show as the installation itself bridges the gap from the outside world of nature and chaos to the gallery space, which tames and investigates these forces. The gallery space in turn bridges the void between art and the viewer, opening them up to a new way of seeing.
Also as part of the exhibition Freeman has created a series of small paintings based on digital photographs of the bridges crossing the Bann at different stages. She creates these paintings with a combination of computer colour analysis and traditional painting methods, a process that merges the acts of both construction and deconstruction.
In his essay for the exhibition catalogue, Art Historian David Brett describes a key element of the installation stating “We never listen half so well as when we are trying to identify the source of the sound. Think of the fugitive at night in a forest”. By using sound as an element of the piece Freeman and Wilson force the viewer to listen beyond what we expect to hear. They do this through a constantly transforming soundtrack that unites poetry, recordings of the river and surrounding noises, which creates the impression that one is hearing the very soul of the river.
This exhibition not only utilises the ability of technology to imitate nature but it also allows nature to express itself within the gallery space. Through this harmony of the art work, gallery space and the viewer, the exhibition gives emphasis to the significance of how art can be part of our everyday lives and we the viewer can take part in the expression of art.
Barbara Freeman has lived in Belfast for the last 25 years she has had many exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her work appears in both public and private collections.
Paul Wilson is a teacher of music technology and composition at Queens University, Belfast and has a growing list of commissions and performances.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition