Can sound be sculpture?



Can sound be sculpture? Hear it in Bill Fontana‘s beautiful Kiribilli Wharf room at RMIT Gallery when the new exhibition Revelations: Sculpture from The RMIT Art Collection is opened tonight by Ken Scarlett OAM at 6pm on 22 May 2014.  Ken Scarlett‘s publication Australian Sculptors was the first to present a complete survey of sculpture in Australia.

The sound sculpture room was designed to complement the Fontana work by curator Jon Buckingham. He says “we have presented Kiribilli Wharf here with a lighting component designed to de-emphasize the conventional ‘white cube’ of the gallery space, and to create a truly immersive experience. “

In his catalogue essay, Jon Buckingham writes;

That innovation is such an integral part of contemporary sculptural practice suggests that it isn’t simply a deliberate recycling of form. Krauss’ expanded field is a reformulation of what can be considered sculpture – a broadening of the term in line with an increasingly diverse approach to practice, but still within a closely defined set of parameters. This properly allows for the inclusion of works like Bill Fontana’s Kirribilli Wharf and Reko Rennie’s I wear my own crown, which use sound and light respectively to express form. Artist Gareth Jones finds this problematic: in jettisoning the concept of sculpture as object, sculpture risks losing the identity that defines it. Though one can respect this line of reasoning, it seems overly reductive. Fontana and Rennie’s works are just further examples of truth-to-materials, addressing the subject of sound with sound, light with light.  This is not to suggest that these works are simply formal experiments; both works are profoundly concerned with establishing a sense of place, and in Rennie’s case, a sense of identity as well.

Bill Fontana (b. 1947)

Kirribilli Wharf, 1976

8 channel sound installation

edition 2/3

duration 27 min 53 sec (looped)

Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2012

Sound Art Collection

RMIT University Art Collection SA.2013.3

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