I like to be blindsided by art, I also really like casual atmosphere in traditionally formal environments. When I entered Byte by Byte, I knew that I was going to have a great time. There were amplifiers, white neons, snare drums and electric guitars all hung precariously.
I could talk endlessly about the hammocks; I’ll spare you this time – but how amazing are hammocks in a gallery? Onwards: Byte by Byte at Darling Foundry is a multi-sensory experience, but it’s not limited to sound and vision, you are confronted by modules when you walk into the space.
Modules comprised of amplifiers, lights, metal sculptures, vintage mixers and guitars. Objects. These objects are familiar; immediately I thought of my teenage years and pining for big vintage amps, probably because I desperately wanted to sound like Hendrix.
Now these amps seem like tools to me, tools that I lug around on tour. Tools that cost a lot to fix. Heavy tools.
As I walked around Byte by Byte, I forgot all about that. The modules light up and emit spurts of sound. Warm sounds of tubes and feedback. I was worried upon entering that the volume was going to be insanely loud, I mean, stacks upon stacks of cabinets at rock concerts generally means that your ears are going to be damaged.
I approached the behemoth modules, triggering their sound and realized that was not the intention.
After my initial amp fetish glee had worn off, I thought deeper about what truly made this display work: it was the space.
The Darling Foundry reminded me of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX and its repurposed skeleton worked perfectly with the exhibition.
I started to notice the way natural light poured in from outside combining with the neons humming and buzzing, how the amps spilled bursts of sound intermittently and how the space reverberated their warmth.
Artist Thomas Bégin had cleverly placed snare drums in front of the cabinets so that the bursts of sound emitted from them triggered the snares.
All the sounds were low in timbre, very warm in tone, and I was constantly reminded of early experiments with analog gear. Gear like my dad’s 70’s Fender bass amp, or hooking up various stereo receivers and turntables in my room for private late night listening sessions.
For a pleasant moment I forgot about the latest midi controllers and synth VST’s that now occupy my mind. A++