Installation view: Die Spiegel, 2016. Acoustic foam, moving blankets, wood, plywood, mineral wool, speakers, wiring, fluorescent lights, light filtering gels, other electronics, sound and music, light, carpet, seating.

Die Spiegel (“dee shpee-gull” - the mirrors) project proposal, excerpts:

“I am planning an installation which will respond to the conditions of the MFA show itself, including the Sullivan galleries, the opening events, and the institutional context. The conditions to which I am responding are qualitative, embedded in the space itself and often subtle or overlooked. The initial seed for this project grew out of the sharp, slapping acoustic properties of the gallery. I am also interested in the overwhelming, maze-like character (especially to new visitors) that the gallery presents in all of its white-walled sameness. Large openings at Sullivan, in all of their aural, social, spatial and visual cacophony, reinforce these issues. Finally, I also wish to respond to the light, or lack thereof, in the gallery.

“My strategy of response is one of qualitative equalization, or inversion. Where I see a hole, I fill it, and where I see a sharp point, I level it off. Given the aural cacophony, social intensity, visual saturation and overall level of spectacle, I aim to create a retreat, or safe-haven in the midst of that environment.

“Tactically, I want to do a number of things tailored to this context. First, I would like to use acoustic dampening materials (echo absorbers, essentially) to palpably alter the acoustic environment in the space. Secondly, I wish to dramatically alter the quality of light in the space using high-output, full-spectrum, daylight-balanced fluorescent tubes. Lastly, I wish to add sound to the space, consisting of minimal, textural music (but something that still offers forward motion, i.e. not monotonous or annoying).

“Though the conditions I am responding to may seem superficial, they are symptomatic of galleries, institutions, the art world, academia and urban life generally; I believe changing these conditions therefore raises significant questions. The success of the endeavor will hinge upon creating a space that in its essence presents a juxtaposition to the site around it.”

Brian M. John
February 15, 2016
Chicago, IL