Clefs, notes and staffs are a shadow of the full-bodied richness of music. But the experience of sound is always incomplete—it’s made individual, mediated, ricocheted and distorted by the constant dialogue between our bodies and the space we occupy. The white box of Miguel Abreu Gallery’s Orchard Street location serves as a perfect slate for Marina Rosenfeld’s experimental acoustic architecture. “Partials,” Rosenfeld’s newest exhibition, extends a body of work developed in tandem at The Artist’s Institute in New York and Kunsthaus Baselland in Basel.
Multiple speakers arrayed around the room—one is aligned with the cavernous height of a doorway, another is ankle-height, still another is hip-height on its own ledge—emit an algorithmically determined soundtrack that grumbles through the space. It seems to swoop along the floor from one wall to another, sometimes clarifying enough for you to make out the individual low stroke of a cello or viola, other times fraying into a sawing buzzing or rising to lo-fi aural roar.
Three thick and uncertain lines in space, wrought in steel, implore one to step over or under—or even, temptingly, through—them, echoing the unsure manner in which a viewer-listener tries to track the skittering sound over their own steps. The title of the work Cee (c) seems to hint at its near-transcendence into the visual realm—almost, “see”; not quite. Even the armatures for the audio—the long, horizontal soundbar, the small black dot of the bookshelf speaker — are in a sense drawings in space, suggestions for how to read the sweep of the sound.
Several works on paper are also in view. Just as music eludes visual transcription, they seem faded, poised to dissipate entirely. From the bottom corner of one work, some sort of garment with a delicate mesh texture twists into itself to reveal a gilt edge. It barely extends to the center of the sheet, more than three quarters of it blank: a partial image. —Lisa Yin Zhang
Marina Rosenfeld, Cee (c), 2021. Steel, shotgun microphone, soundbar, audio components, 58 1/2 x 68 3/4 x 43 3/4 inches.