“Black Light/White Noise”

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has been pimped out

Like a pimped-out ride, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has been revamped, lit up and filled with reverberating speakers -- all in an effort to “subvert people’s notions about how to perceive art,” according to Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator of “Black Light/White Noise,” which may be the most fun exhibit in Houston this summer. “People think of artists using sound and light as this heavy, European concept,” says Cassel Oliver. “We’ve tried to show a snapshot of the ways artists are using sound and light in a really approachable manner.”

Many of the pieces depend on viewer interaction. When viewers stand inside Karyn Olivier’s Whispering Domes, a set of cone-like skylights, their voices are manipulated through its acoustics; when they stand inside Satch Hoyt’s 8-Track Shack, a little house bricked in tape cartridges, they can listen to the artist’s soundtrack, a mash-up of classic tracks.

The light explorations are equally mesmerizing. Kira Lynn Harris’s untitled piece is an inverted pyramid covered in silver Mylar and illuminated with changing, multi-colored lights. “The red lights reflecting off the Mylar are to evoke sunrise or sunset,” she says, “when we notice the spectrum of sunlight the most.” Louis Cameron’s projected film Universal features dancing black-and-white lines that are actually barcodes spliced together.

“It’s like an art funhouse,” Oliver says of the show, “a chance to escape the heat and really go somewhere else.”

 
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