Published August 28, 2019 by Tom Porter

Art from All Directions

It was not your typical art gallery concert. On August 1, 2019, four artists moved around the Walker Gallery, sometimes in sync, sometimes separately, smartphones in hand. Clusters of different sounds emitted from a speaker in the center of the room. The sounds, some of them musical, some more elemental, were generated by the artists’ phones reacting to the wall drawing that surrounded them.

This was a performance of Let’s Get Lost/ Listening Glass—a multimedia installation combining an audio element with a visual piece—by the four artists who created it. In tandem with a site-specific drawing called Let’s Get Lost (done on the walls of the gallery by linn meyers, the 2018—2019 halley k harrisburg ’90 and Michael Rosenfeld Artist-in-Residence at Bowdoin), media artists Rebecca Bray, James Bigbee Garver, and Josh Knowles joined meyers to develop Listening Glass, which uses mobile technology to add the elements of sound and movement. The result was an app, which anyone visiting the gallery or the related website can download onto their iPhone or iPad, enabling them to create their own improvised composition by moving their device along the contours of the drawing. Toward the end of the performance, audience members were encouraged to grab their phones and join in.

The result was a groundbreaking event, embracing the potential of interdisciplinary collaboration among artists and between creative practitioners and the audience. “It’s rare that a composition is written for an instrument [i.e., the Listening Glass app] with the goal of teaching the people in that room how to use the instrument,” explains Knowles. Bray describes the performance in complementary terms: “It is a composition, but a large part of it is improvisation: collaborative improvisation.”

The interactive exhibition Let’s Get Lost/ Listening Glass will be on display at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s Walker Gallery until September 29, 2019. The project was made possible by a gift from David and Barbara Roux P’14.