The Contraphonic Sound Series Relaunches with New "Fourth River" Releases; April Exhibit at Pittsburgh's 937 Gallery
The Contraphonic Sound Series is a project that aims to document cities through sound. A new exhibit showcasing the Pittsburgh-focused works of the series will be displayed at The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's 937 Gallery from April 3-April 18, 2015.
The Contraphonic Sound Series encourages artists to sonically explore a particular place, event, neighborhood or moment across a city's history. Sound, an oftentimes overlooked medium to engage the characteristics of space (think, the age of transit infrastructure revealed by the squeal of steel-on-steel or the subdued hum of electric trains), can challenge the preeminence of visual culture to define a sense of place. In this way, sound can be utilized in the search for authentic civic identities in an age of universal aesthetic qualities.
Taking its name from the "hidden" fourth river that flows under Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle, the Contraphonic Sound Series' Fourth River pieces represent a confluence of Pittsburgh artists finding new ways to interpret familiar -- or unfamiliar -- places. Each work brings together musicians, writers and artists to produce a 10-20 minute piece of music that is released digitally with an accompanying .pdf booklet of essays and photos focusing on the topic at hand.
The Fourth River series premiered in 2011 with the release of local Pittsburgh artist David Bernabo's "Fourth River: Welcome to Pittsburgh," a musical mediation on the hidden history of the city that The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette heralded as "a 12-minute electro-acoustic magnum opus." The release was a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon photography instructor Elizabeth Raymer-Griffin.
A bevy of new Fourth River releases are slated to appear in early 2015. They include Justin Hopper's "Ley Line" and Lisa Toboz and Jeff Schreckengost's "Homestead/Smokestack." The exhibit will also feature a new set of illustrations by Schreckengost that find their inspiration in the vivid, expressionist work of early 20th-century artist Maxo Vanka and his infamous murals in Millvale's St. Nicholas Catholic Church, as well as Hopper's poems celebrating Vanka.
Taken on the whole, the exhibit presents a broad spectrum of deeply enmeshed Pittsburgh voices. As Pittsburgh's latest renaissance hits its full stride, the artists involved with Fourth River take a step back to deeply listen to the city and respond to its hum. They give voice to the mythologies of mill and steam that power the city still, and lend color and character to shades of its past. But while the inspiration for Fourth River's artists comes from Pittsburgh's resonant past, the focus is on using that past to draw a map and build a compass that might guide us into the future.
The Contraphonic Sound Series Presents 'Fourth River'
April 3-18, 2015
937 Gallery | 937 Liberty Avenue, 2nd floor
Program schedule TBA soon.