Unless you regularly haunt downtown Portland on First Thursdays, it can be a little difficult to experience the sound art that the Variform gallery presents. The space is only open for small windows of time. This seems a wise practice to preserve the equipment that plays a role in the installations—like the 2017 exhibition in which composer Ben Glas fed three sound waves into the room, changing as listeners moved through the space. Or the recent presentation of Marcus Fischer’s Multiples, which sent the signal from a multi-channel tape loop into an array of speakers containing seed pods from an empress tree. (It was so cool!)
That’s why the Spring Series concert that Variform’s co-curators Patricia and CM Wolf are presenting at Disjecta feels like such a treat. It’s the chance to draw attention to the world of sound art on a grander scale, with room for many more bodies than their humble downtown gallery space can hold.
The main draw of this two-day event is a rare Portland performance from Peter Rehberg, who runs the fantastic label Editions MEGO and records under the name Pita. His trio of albums Get Down, Get Out, and Get In sound like the product of an agitated mind expressing every last fractured thought and tortured memory with an array of synthesizers and software. The scarce moments of calm, as on the gorgeous “Line Angel” and “Mfbk” from Get In, arrive only after long sonic assaults of squeals and crackles.
Rehberg’s set will be joined by performances from local noise wizard Daniel Menche and poet/multimedia artist Jamondria Harris. But to get the complete picture of what sound art can be, the second night of this series is the one not to miss.
Working with CymaSpace (a nonprofit that specializes in creating technology and events for the Deaf community), three artists— including CymaSpace founder Myles de Bastion and electronic artists Strategy and Chloe Alexandra Thompson—will tailor their sets to make the best use of a large subwoofer system. In other words, the focus is on sound you can feel as well as hear. Like the series as a whole, it’s a night about connecting people with sounds and artists they might not otherwise have access to, and making the case for sound art as a serious artistic discipline.