Visualizing Sound and Sight

Two fall exhibitions opening this weekend at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, explore the foundations of perception in very different ways. As the first guest curator in a new biennial initiative to bring noted international exhibition-makers to the Aldrich, Austria-born Thomas Trummer has organized a show around the use of the human voice in visual art. Titled 'Voice & Void,' Trummer brings together works by roughly 15 artists--including John Cage, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Valie Export, and Julianne Swartz--who incorporate voice in the form of audio recordings or visual representations, and many of whom offer some kind of jarring perceptual shift between sight and sound. A panel discussion with the curator, several artists in the exhibition, and David Goldblatt, author of 'Art and Ventriloquism,' opens the show on September 16. While Trummer finds artists exploring sound and speech, a concurrent exhibition of Marti Cormand's paintings focuses on the visual, suggesting that the digital underpinnings of contemporary images have irrevocably colored our perceptions of the natural world. The winner of this year's Aldrich Prize for Emerging Artists, his forcefully romantic landscapes are interrupted by stray bands of abstraction calling to mind colorfully pixelated noise breaking up a digital photograph--or impossibly hard-edged angles interrupting otherwise organic-looking topographies. - William Hanley