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Excerpt from a performance of Arvo Pärt's “Spiegel im Spiegel” (Mirror in the Mirror). Performed by Meredith Leich, on viola, and myself (Brian M. John), with software and electronics.

Audio of Die Spiegel (Iteration 2.4):

Die Spiegel (“dee shpee-gull” - the mirrors) project proposal, excerpts:

“I am planning an installation which will respond to the conditions of the MFA show itself, including the Sullivan galleries, the opening events, and the institutional context. The conditions to which I am responding are qualitative, embedded in the space itself and often subtle or overlooked. The initial seed for this project grew out of the sharp, slapping acoustic properties of the gallery. I am also interested in the overwhelming, maze-like character (especially to new visitors) that the gallery presents in all of its white-walled sameness. Large openings at Sullivan, in all of their aural, social, spatial and visual cacophony, reinforce these issues. Finally, I also wish to respond to the light, or lack thereof, in the gallery.

“My strategy of response is one of qualitative equalization, or inversion. Where I see a hole, I fill it, and where I see a sharp point, I level it off. Given the aural cacophony, social intensity, visual saturation and overall level of spectacle, I aim to create a retreat, or safe-haven in the midst of that environment.

“Tactically, I want to do a number of things tailored to this context. First, I would like to use acoustic dampening materials (echo absorbers, essentially) to palpably alter the acoustic environment in the space. Secondly, I wish to dramatically alter the quality of light in the space using high-output, full-spectrum, daylight-balanced fluorescent tubes. Lastly, I wish to add sound to the space, consisting of minimal, textural music (but something that still offers forward motion, i.e. not monotonous or annoying).

“Though the conditions I am responding to may seem superficial, they are symptomatic of galleries, institutions, the art world, academia and urban life generally; I believe changing these conditions therefore raises significant questions. The success of the endeavor will hinge upon creating a space that in its essence presents a juxtaposition to the site around it.”

Brian M. John
February 15, 2016
Chicago, IL