Meditative sonic architecture meets a great work of modern architecture, as Alva Noto and Ryuchi Sakamoto invade Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House.
There are few locations more emblematic of contemplative modern aesthetic than Philip Johnson’s 1949 residence, a transparent box stripped of much beyond its focused proportions and structure. And that seems a fitting location for the exposed materials of Karsten Nicolai and Sakamoto. Their sounds, like the house, leave exposed sounds transparently suspended in space, each available for extended, thoughtful observation without distraction.
Here, they float sounds electronic, electro-acoustic, and amplified like so many blown bubbles drifting through the air. In a bath of reverberant sustain, that wash of sound seems to inhale and exhale as a gas. It hums and expands, a vast cloud of sound penetrated by sharp, sparkling percussion.
It’s beautiful stuff, and it times nicely with a cloud of red spots affixed to the house in an installation by the one and only legendary dot-obsessed artist, Yayoi Kusama. Kusama’s dots seem a mirror for the pixels and textures of Karsten and the raster-noton crew.
It’s wonderful seeing that play of dots against the cold rectangles of Johnson’s floor plans – defacing that architecture somehow harmoniously.
Vogue covers that story:
Oops, there’s that word again. But if any piece of architecture should be called iconic, this one really is iconic. I mean, you can buy LEGO kits of it. And it looks a bit like LEGO.
Here’s Karsten talking about his work to RBMA in 2011:
And more of this collaboration:
And I interviewed Karsten and Olaf Bender over the summer, specifically about the connection of visuals and music: