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The Museum of Contemporary Art

Jennifer Steinkamp "SWELL"

Jennifer Steinkamp "SWELL"

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From: The Museum of Contemporary Art
Limited Edition: 28
Exhibition: Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88cm x 243cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Jennifer Steinkamp's computer-generated video installations are dramatic environments that lure in viewers forcing them to interact and engage with the works. Her 1995 installation SWELL with its brightly-colored constellations and vast, dark sky, conjures up the feel of sci-fi space travel. Featured in the exhibition "Visual Music" the room-size installation was coupled with an organic, whoosing soundtrack by Bryan Brown, giving the entire piece the sensation of live human breathing. 28 banners from MOCALA featuring SWELL are available.


In 1912, art critic Roger Fry coined the term "visual music" to define the attempts of artists who sought common ground between the disparate experiences of sight and sound. Sound and music seemed to provide the prime example of an experience that is concrete but nonetheless abstract. The exhibition, Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 played upon this melding of visual and auditory experience. Artist Jennifer Steinkamp's installation SWELL (1995) was a part of this innovative exhibition, and was projected onto large screens while accompanied by a soundtrack by Bryan Brown.

Steinkamp's installation art truly allows viewers to enter into and experience the visual aspects of her art. By further incorporating the sense of hearing through an accompanying soundtrack, the installation becomes a world into which the viewer can enter for a multi-faceted experience. The meaning derived from the work comes not just from the installation but from the viewer's personal interpretation of the experience. One need only consider the perennial popularity of those 1970s Pink Floyd laser-light shows to grasp how dramatic and engaging such multi-sensory experiences can be.

These banners show a still of Steinkamp's computer projection video SWELL with brilliantly-colored lights floating amidst a black background. The effect of the dark, other-worldly background evokes the feeling of outer-space, while the bursts of color become vibrant, rainbow-colored stars hurling through the galaxies. Above and below SWELL on both sides are purple bands that accent the image. On one side, white text above the image reads "Visual" and below the museum name and exhibition dates "MOCA/Grand Avenue Feb 13 - May 22, 2005". On the other side, white text above the image reads simply "Music". The banners were designed to span a city light-post, so hanging a pair side-by-side creates a complete diptych.


These banners were displayed around Los Angeles from February 13 to May 22, 2005 to promote the exhibition Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. The exhibition was jointly organized with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC where it was also seen.

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