Mitchell Akiyama at Gendai Workstation opens January 20 Friday


Or, the noise no writing can store
Mitchell Akiyama

January 20 – February 21, 2012
Regular hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am-6pm

Join us for the opening on Friday, January 20 from 8pm to 12am.

Rainer Maria Rilke imagines running the needle of a phonograph along the coronal suture of a skull, an act he believes might release a primal sound, a phonographic inscription scrawled across the bones that had, until then, remained hidden and mute. The eighteenth century German physicist, Ernst Chladni discovers that acoustic vibrations cause patterns to form in the sand strewn across a metal plate, the delicate arabesques suggesting sound has a misunderstood materiality. Thomas Edison, slightly hard of hearing despite his young age, sits at his desk and bites down on the wooden mount supporting his prototype for a machine that can both record and play back sound. The bone structure of his teeth, jaw, and cranial cavities amplify the vibrations and restore some of the hearing that his ears no longer provide. Similarly, Ludwig van Beethoven, now all but deaf, bites into a wooden rod attached to the soundboard of his piano, accessing the tactile sonority of the instrument. Twentieth century seismologists convert the raw data of the movement of tectonic plates into sound in order to better understand the power of earthquakes. The quiet shivering of the earth occasionally displays a jagged spike on a computer screen, an event that sounds like a bomb.

The senses are not discreet conduits of perception. It is almost axiomatic in Western modernity that there are but five senses, each responsible for one type of input that the others cannot decipher. But it is the very instruments and technologies of modernity that have helped to erode these apparent divisions. Synaesthesia is the new norm. Everything is information; how data are represented is a matter of aesthetics or convenience. Something must mediate between what is and what is perceived. Or perhaps perception is all there is. It is in the time between an event and its apprehension that wonder or terror occur.

– Mitchell Akiyama

Mitchell Akiyama is a Toronto based artist, composer, and a PhD candidate in Communications at McGill University. His work explores the history and materiality of sound. He has performed and exhibited throughout North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia in galleries, festivals, and run-down dive bars, the likes of which include the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna, the Sonar festival in Barcelona, the Mutek festival in Montreal, and a former fallout bunker in the post-Soviet squalor of Opava, Czech Republic.

Akiyama’s work is eclectic but tends to be concerned with the material and sensual qualities of communications and media technologies. Akiyama’s sound art often exploits digital errors and embraces the aesthetics of the media in which he works. While recording media are often tacitly accepted as windows onto the world, Akiyama’s focuses on the pane, the medium itself, that separates subject from object. His multimedia and installation works are similarly focused on materiality. Akiyama’s work questions how and what it is that we represent with media; how do media prey upon memories, parasitically displacing embodied experience with representations? Akiyama’s media interventions seek to reveal the artificiality as well as the suchness and inescapable presence of media.