May 29, 2010 - Modern Art Oxford - Susan Philipsz: You are not alone, book launch and presentation
May 29, 2010

Susan Philipsz: You are not alone, book launch and presentation

The Radcliffe Observatory
Green Templeton College, Oxford
Photography by Mick Scott

Susan Philipsz: You are not alone
Book launch and presentation
Sunday, 6 June 2010 at 3pm

Motto Berlin store
Skalitzer str. 68
10997 Berlin

Modern Art Oxford, Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie and Motto invite you to the launch of a new publication by the Turner Prize 2010 nominated artist Susan Philipsz. Designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio, the publication documents a recent commission made with Modern Art Oxford entitled ‘You are not alone’, specially created for the Radcliffe Observatory, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. The publication features an introduction by Director of Modern Art Oxford, Michael Stanley and text by Joerg Heiser. For the event Philipsz will also install a special presentation of the work, ‘You are not alone’.

Taking the original function of the building as her starting point, Philipsz developed a new sound work that, with remarkable potency, engaged with the uniqueness of this historical site. Built in the 18th century, the Radcliffe Observatory was modelled on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, a first-century BC clock tower embellished with sundials and crowned with a weather vane.

In her work, Philipsz recalls Guglielmo Marconi’s suggestion that sounds, once generated, never die; they fade but continue to reverberate as sound waves around the universe. A pioneer of radio technology later used in radio telescopes, Marconi may have been driven by this thought to investigate the potential of wireless telegraphy; to literally tune into the universe. In her evocative new commission, Philipsz elicits something of the existential and philosophical concerns present in Marconi’s proposition and in the nature of the Observatory itself, as metaphorical frontier to the stars.

The artist has recorded herself playing radio interval signals (brief musical sequences typically played before or during breaks in radio transmission) sourced from around the world, on vibraphone. In a new departure for the artist, Philipsz, for the first time used radio transmission as the audio source for her work. Four distinct recordings are broadcast from separate FM transmitters on the rooftop of Modern Art Oxford to receivers, placed at the Observatory, which picked up the individual transmissions and relayed them to visitors through four speakers on the inside. Adding a distinct sculptural device in her use of time and space and the physical journey of sound across the city of Oxford, visitors to the Observatory experienced a lament of sound, given a distant, ethereal and haunting quality by the use of the vibraphone.

The commission was made possible through the generous collaboration and support of Green Templeton College and is the first in a series of three proposed commissions for the Radcliffe Observatory.

Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford
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