Centred around Len Lye’s noise-making kinetic sculpture and a set of audio recordings held in the Len Lye Foundation Archive, Sensory Agents focuses on the role sound plays in Lye’s work, and links Lye to a younger generation of artists who share his interest in the capacity of sound and music to elicit sensory responses.
Selected work by Len Lye is shown alongside installations and new commissions by Yuko Mohri (JP), Sergei Tcherepnin (US) and Danae Valenza (AU), three international artists working across sculpture, sound and musical composition.
Witnessing Lye’s steel sculpture in motion is a highly physical experience, with the sounds produced by their movements – their force, energy, rhythm and resonance – vital to their sensory impact and appeal. Working with steel, Lye developed a range of techniques to heighten the potential sound-producing qualities of his sculptures, including the use of bells and percussive ‘strikers’. This gave Lye the idea to record and make these new sounds available to musicians and composers as source material for their compositions, expanding their material for music.
In keeping with this idea, Sensory Agents also presents newly commissioned compositions by contemporary artists and composers using the sounds of Lye’s sculpture alongside original recordings held in the Len Lye Foundation Archive. It opens a new evaluation of his work in terms of sound and music, to consider them, in Lye’s own words, as ‘musical instruments rather than visual kinetic works of art’.
Curated by Sarah Wall