Sound installations often have spare physical environments—bare rooms with speakers, maybe a few electronic lights—to focus the listener’s attention on the qualities of their drones and tones. But Sergei Tcherepnin includes sculptures and found objects in his interactive works, incorporating the senses of sight and touch, and all the associations those stimuli might evoke, into the experience of sound. Games (2016) features a series of large-scale photographs, where his fellow members of New York’s gay basketball league recreate poses from Vaslav Nijinsky’s 1914 choreography for a Debussy ballet. Their shorts are studded with bits of copper, the same material of the folded bands that hug the edge of each photograph; squeeze them, and the attached synthesizers play brief electronic compositions, through speakers made from roughly cut discs of foam core. Behind a temporary wall, there’s a bed that you’re welcome to lie down in. As you recline, you can feel speakers embedded in the pillows vibrate as they play overlapping notes that glide and crescendo like accelerating machines over the stumbling thump of the beat. The intimacy of the scene is a pleasing partner to the unassuming rigging of Tcherepnin’s homemade electronics. He’s a tinkerer, and he invites his listeners to play with the materials, too: they let their bodies become conductors of sound, they complete the work by feeling it.
Pictured: Sergei Tcherepnin: Games, 2016, five double-sided hanging color photographs mounted on sintra, copper, brass, arduino, touch sensor, sound, dimensions variable. Courtesy Murray Guy, New York.