Rick Araluce and Steve Peters have collaborated on an imaginative response to empty space in their sound/art installation. Through April 13, 2012, at Suyama Space.
At Suyama Space, you will find something extraordinary. You might not even recognize it as art, but so beguiling is its impact that in the end that probably doesn’t matter.
Rick Araluce and Steve Peters have collaborated on a gallery installation, “Uprising,” that draws almost equally upon their rather different gifts. Araluce is a trompe l’oeil sculptor whose specialty is miniature-scale pieces. Here he draws more on the experience of his day job as lead scenic artist at Seattle Opera. He has filled the gallery with a sprawling network of what looks like ancient, rusted steel plumbing.
With delightful wit throughout — and here I almost feel I should include a spoiler alert — he has constructed practically the entire thing out of painted plastic and wood. His dedication in conjuring what he calls this “ultra-labor- intensive” illusion is almost perverse.
For his part, Peters has gone to equally convoluted lengths to compose an audio piece. In 2005, he recorded the noises the Suyama Space made when it was empty. The recording consists of ambient sound — the heating system switching off and on, traffic passing on Second Avenue, airplanes flying overhead and not much more than that. By manipulating that raw audible material digitally and acoustically, he has concocted a frankly beautiful sound piece. He then recorded this on five CDs which, running out of sync, play very quietly through five pairs of speakers hidden at various points inside Araluce’s plumbing.
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You can put your ear up to the ends of the pipes and hear elements of the sound, but the more moving experience is to be had by simply sharing the space with the installation: walking around it and hearing the whole randomized orchestra of sound moving about inside the pipes and ever so subtly filling the space around them.
Araluce and Peters’ collaborative starting point was their response to the empty space. As Peters puts it, “This gallery is so much more than a sterile white cube. It’s a totally inspiring space, and it gives you so much to work with.”
Then, as Araluce explains, they quickly found themselves thinking about “what’s behind the walls,” which is in fact a recurrent theme in his miniatures. The leap to the plumbing imagery followed pretty swiftly.
But it was at this point that the fruit of their collaboration exceeded even what the artists planned for it. They both went to enormous physical effort to create a work whose success lies in its very restraint, and their concentration on the building’s massive, industrial-era workings allowed them to produce a piece that beguiles by the ephemerality of the almost inaudible sounds that it produces.
There is a further irony in this: I encourage you to experience this installation. On the other hand, its subtlety is such that I know it will be best appreciated by visitors who can be in the space alone.
Araluce and Peters have constructed a delicious, transcendent, meditative place.
Robert Ayers: firstname.lastname@example.org