3.

Underperformances

Kabir Carter
May 13th through May 17th, 2015
Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space


I use a wired microphone and loudspeaker to shape a room or fill a space with the amplified and attenuated form of its own emotional body—its own varied, volumetric texture as described by the spatial and acoustic sensing capabilities and physical form of both ingesting and discharging transducers. Lately, I’ve been working with two different microphones: Shure’s SM57 and SM58. Without their grills, their morphologies are fairly similar, and they use the same microphone cartridge. Practically speaking, the SM58 looks like a dusky, scaled down, no neck Hitachi Magic Wand and the SM57 resembles a tapered tool grip.

Both microphones are associated with specific, iconic end users. The SM57 is the transducer of the public speaker, and the SM58 brings to mind the popular music vocalist. Images exposing the SM58 as a detachable prosthesis abound: a crouching Henry Rollins clutching an SM58’s base; Michael Jackson’s sequin gloved hand enveloping an SM58 grill; various performers partially inserting the SM58 into their mouths, or resting it along or against their mouths in order to alter the microphone’s frequency response, or otherwise reshape the microphone diaphragm’s enclosure and heighten the probing potential of the microphone.

Accounts of my performances are generally difficult to gather. While my physical movements and gestures can be tracked, timed, and noted down, their effects modulate sound in space, and yield something mutable and overwhelming. At best, behavioral patterns can be ascertained in situ, but are easily lost when recorded and reproduced. Within each performance’s temporary container, acoustic waves can travel, bounce, meet, build up, and cancel out. What is left over are holes, pockets, and spreads of sensate energy. What materials can be assembled to hazard records of these occurrences without producing a stiff and partial trace, a weak and poorly defined mold?

This project is the third installment of Threshing Floors, on view through May 31, 2015.

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Kabir Carter’s work moves between performance and installation, and operates on architectural forms and urban environments to produce expanded perceptual experiences. Recent works include a suite of performances blurring physical and acoustic boundaries between body, architecture, and microphone diaphragms (Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen, 2014); an airborne and structure-borne sound installation for a museum elevator (Tang Museum, 2011); participating in the reconfiguration and presentation of Maryanne Amacher’s sonic work (daadgalerie, 2012); and collaborating with Simon Leung, Yvonne Rainer, and others on the performance work ACTIONS! (The Kitchen, 2013). He has received awards from Bergen Kommune, Danish Arts Council, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, among others. Currently, Carter has been invited by the Museet for Samtidskunst (Roskilde) to present the Working Group for Sound in the Expanded Field, a discursive project that uses workshops and other sound focused activities to examine sound’s role in daily life. He holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, where he was a Joseph Hartog Fellow.