Petzel is pleased to present Frames and variations, an experiential exhibition, encompassing sound, film and performance, by Hong Kong-based artist Samson Young. The show marks Young’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery and will be on view from January 20th to March 4th, 2023, at Petzel’s new Chelsea location at 520 W 25th Street. Inspired by the perception of sound and how it is distorted and concealed in cinema, this exhibition is comprised of two new immersive installations that center on the effects of situated listening. Young examines the spatial relationships between the aural source and the viewer’s vision, adding to an illusion of sound that encircles the viewer sonically and visually.
In the first gallery, Young presents Variations of 96 chords in space (Feat. William Lane), 2022–2023, a four-channel video with a 6 channel audio and sound installation. Filmed in a theater in Hong Kong, this work shows a variety of instruments being played by Young and performer William Lane, including a woodblock, viola, crotales, and a self-playing piano. Additionally, a speaker plays both electronic and recorded sounds generated by the artist, while their pitch materials are associated with specific RGB colors.
“I started with a chart of 96 ‘color chords,’ writes Young in the exhibition program published to accompany Frames and variations. “There are 12 hues of color within the set. Each hue is associated with a key area: lighter tints yielded chords with fewer varieties of intervals, and as the color tone gets darker the intervallic relationships within a chord become more varied and complex.”
Each color chord came with a specific choreography of musical play, captured by four distinct camera angles that were shot twice (the first with Young, the second with Lane and Young). As the instruments played, the proximity of the microphones moved closer and further away from the source and captured the nuances of their sounds—their softness and sharpness as they reverberated with each take, while their assigned color illuminated the theater. Young also cut different arrangements between the microphones to create a dynamic mix.
Young will perform in the large gallery each day throughout the duration of the exhibition. In Refrains and variations, “an open-ended composition that reoccurs in short segments in different musical and spatial variations,” the artist will wear a binaural microphone headset, a special set of over-the-ear mobile microphones that stream the sounds being played in the space that closely capture the way a human hears.
The feed from these devices will be heard through headphones in a smaller, domestically decorated space where visitors will be able to listen and watch Young carry himself to different parts of the room through windows facing into the performance space. The familiar surroundings, yet disembodied experience of listening in the viewing space is a physical reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rear Window. The viewer is both separated from the action and intimately connected to it.
About Samson Young
Multi-disciplinary artist Samson Young works in sound, performance, video, and installation. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Princeton University in 2013. In 2017, he represented Hong Kong at the 57th Venice Biennale. Other solo projects include the De Appel, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; SMART Museum, Chicago; Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art in Manchester; M+ Pavilion, Hong Kong; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Ryosoku-in at Kenninji Temple, Kyoto; and Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, among others. Selected group exhibitions include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Performa 19, New York; Biennale of Sydney; Shanghai Biennale; National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Ars Electronica, Linz; and documenta 14: documenta radio, among others. In 2020, he was awarded the inaugural Uli Sigg Prize. His works are in the collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Mori Art Museum, Japan; and KADIST, Paris.