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As a part of MoMA PS1’s ongoing Sunday Sessions, New Amsterdam Presented Sound / Source, an all day sound event on October 19.

The thing about sound is that one’s reaction must be immediate, something based in the moment – it is different than visual art – it’s specific. With visual art, one has time to consider, ponder and explore. Sound is a great constraint, you must judge over and over, in the moment, reconsidering and recounting as the work continues. Visual art presents everything there is to see to a varying degree, and a solid judgment is available quickly. Sound unfolds and concludes at exact points. Furthermore, it’s exclusive, particularly in regard to live music. This is what one was met with at the Sunday Sessions at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City.

With a mix of live works and installations, the sound pieces were spread through the entire museum, including the elevators (with long-form work by Lucky Dragons). The beauty (or curse) of sound installations is that the viewer has no control over the work. With visual art, the viewer can simply look away and ignore it. Sound? The artist controls everything – the viewer can’t change the volume of the performance, the instruments used, the pace, the visuals associated with it. But the constraints can be exciting and thought provoking. Olga Bell showed her skills with Alvin Lucier’s innovative and classic, I am sitting in a room (1969). Canadian pianist Vicky Chow performed Tristan Perich’s Surface Image, a sensory experience that involved her impressive piano skills and extensive commitment to rhythm, even when the forty speaker system was at its most complex (the 1-bit electronics were unexpectedly, but gorgeously, complicated).


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On the rooftop terrace, Daniel Wohl with Olga Bell and Caroline Shaw incorporated a hypnotic video by Lily Morris and Lily Fang. Beyond this, there was the debut of a live vocal arrangement performed by members of Roomful of Teeth. Nate Boyce and Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never collaborated on an installation in MoMA PS1’s basement Boiler Room. This is all interspersed among the actual museum exhibits, making for a lively and unexpected Sunday afternoon at MoMA PS1. Sound / Source is organized by Jocelyn Miller, Curatorial Assistant / Editorial Manager, MoMA PS1, Michael Hammond, Label Manager, New Amsterdam Records and Daniel Wohl, Composer.

-Benjamin Schmidt