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Adam Basanta, A Large Inscription, 2018.
Installation, médium mixte, microphone, amplificateurs, gravier, métal, moteur, pièces électroniques, dimensions variables. | Mixed media installation, microphone, microphone stand, amplifiers, gravel, steel, motor, electronics, variable size. Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist Crédit | Credit: Emily Gan

Adam Basanta
From April 13th 2019 to June 15th 2019
A Large Inscription / A Great Noise

Opening, Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 3PM to 6PM
Family Saturdays: May 4 and June 15, 2019.
The philosopher Edmund Husserl spoke of two basic modalities of time, fixed and flowing, and turned to melody to illustrate their knitting-together. For him, the experience of unified time involved retaining the immediately preceding—what just happened—in such a way as to anticipate what was yet to come. It is on these terms that Adam Basanta’s latest works invite us to contemplate an impasse in our time-consciousness.

What happens to time’s succession, and our self-awareness as lived through it, once we find ourselves totally habituated to coordinated universal time? What happens when, in spite of cultural differences that variegate time’s experience, we objectify our lives so thoroughly as to be paralyzed from imagining any shared anticipation of the future? Updating Husserl, the philosopher Bernard Stiegler diagnoses the problem as one of hypersynchronization. As all of us punctuate our days with constant injunctions to communicate, to ‘have our say’ no matter how mundane, Basanta’s pieces index a fraught moment in our modern relationship to time, even as they evoke certain ancient pathologies around time’s accomplishment.

Exiting city streets caught up in a seemingly never-ending cycle of destruction and reconstruction, we come upon their elementary machine choreographies. We see the futility of Sisyphus, as a microphone is cyclically dragged over gravel, experiencing its amplification through the indifferent temporal encounter of non-living matter. We hear the Golem of Chełm at work in an encased, pile-driving microphone, its assemblage fruitlessly but efficiently performing whatever difference between noise and sound. Taken together, we may also see these gestures less as mutually-ensnared loops than resonant or vibratory structures, suggesting something more opportune: the passage of time as movement. As Husserl insisted in his schema, “…when the concrete present is at an end, a concrete, flowing retentional past must be joined on.”

Neal Thomas

Neal Thomas is a media studies scholar, living and instructing in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. His first book, Becoming-Social in a Networked Age, was published with Routledge in 2018.

Public conversation at OPTICA,
Saturday, May 25th, 3 pm to 4:30 pm between Adam Basanta and Eli Kerr.

PRESS RELEASE (pdf)



Adam Basanta’s work explores technological practices as performances distributed throughout a variety of human, cultural, material and computational agencies. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Fotomuseum Winterthur (CH), Arsenal Art Contemporain (CAN), National Art Centre Tokyo (JPN), and the V Moscow Biennale for Young Art (RUS).