A Visit to Audio Visual Arts (AVA)

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Over the weekend I popped by Audio Visual Arts (AVA), a sound and media art space located a few blocks away from the New Museum, in the East Village.

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Founded by Justin Luke two years ago, the storefront space hosts a range of exhibitions and events, the majority of which relate to the experience of sound and listening. Artists and musicians alike have organized projects at the gallery, from a listening party for Glasser (Cameron Mesirow) to a sound installation by composer Alan Licht to an exhibition of paintings by the legendary guitarist John Fahey to an immersive stroboscopic light and sound installation by Nicedisc (Jeff Pash and Nick Phillips), to name a few. Justin and his brother have a recording studio in the basement of the building, and when the storefront above opened up, Justin decided to move in and start the gallery. AVA also doubles as his apartment, which is located in the back, and this aspect frees him up to be creative and take with risks with the programming, as the shows are not necessarily tied to profit like a regular gallery.

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Antoine Catala’s solo show "Topologies" just opened at AVA, and it features a single luminous, magnificently mind-bending sculpture titled HDDH. On display until November 4th, the work is comprised of two HD flat screen televisions connected by what the artist terms "a magic tube." The tube is seamlessly affixed to the surface of the screen, dramatically warping the continuous flow of images emanating from the television set. The audio signal from the TVs is projected both inside and outside the gallery, thunderously filling up the space. Catala uses broadcast television as the basic material for his hallucinatory sculptures, which heighten the artificiality and absurdity of television programming. HDDH seems like a natural evolution from Catala’s TV Blobs series, one of the highlights from his solo exhibit “TV Show” at 179 Canal last year.

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AVA also runs Exterior Sounds, a 24-hour listening station situated on the outside of the storefront, which rotates a monthly, curated selection of recorded works. Passerbys can plug their headphones into the jack, and choose a track to listen to. Right now, visitors can listen to 4 works spanning the career of French electronic music composer Eliane Radigue. (Go here for a short documentary on Radigue.) In order to produce the listening station, Justin approached a Brooklyn-based manufacturer of intercom systems with his own design, and had the company custom fabricate the box. Justin mentioned that he would like to make more of the stations and install them across the city. I hope that happens!

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In the back room of the gallery, AVA maintains a growing reference library devoted to sound art as well.

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Over the next few months, AVA’s activities will travel outside the space with the launch of a record label and a project booth at NADA Miami in December. The label will focus on vocal-based recordings and Seth Price will be the first artist to produce a release on the label, with artwork by Kerstin Brätsch. To keep up to date on AVA, check out their website or join the mailing list.