18 March 2013

British artist Haroon Mirza creates installation works that utilize everyday and industrial materials to create arresting live sound compositions, melding and complicating the distinctions between noise, sound and music.

His short for Random Acts, titled This content was transmitted to this date in 1987, expands on this theme, using the moving image to extend on his exploration of sound composition. Designed as an interruption to broadcast that develops into something else, this piece was partly inspired by a broadcast the artist saw as a child. Confronting to the traditional expectations of programming, the short puts the viewer in a position that is far removed from the usual immersive and passive experience of television, conveying a genuine sense of immediacy and intervention.

Winner of the Northern Art Prize in 2011, Mirza was born in London but chooses to work in Northern England, in Sheffield. Jonathan Jones has commented that "the north has for years been the dog that did not bark in British art" (the Guardian), but Mirza is changing all that and doesn't understand why more artists haven't been drawn to places like Sheffield and Leeds. Read more from Jonathan Jones article on Mirza http://www.clickfolio.com/haroon/pdf/guardian.pdf

As an amateur scientist, all the items and gadgets in Mirza's installations are functional, serving a purpose in the production of his soundscapes. In one of his pieces at the Lisson Gallery, Mirza presented a mirrored cube, within which a pool of water is agitated by a tiny electronic device, set at the exact speed to required to turn the water into vapour. In another piece an upturned speaker with a hole in it bounces a pound coin rhythmically, and somewhat tantalizingly, into the air.

As well as dealing in the minute and complex, Mirza aims large to disrupt the typical isolation of gallery spaces, often allowing sound to bleed from one gallery into another. This affects the viewer's perceptual experience of moving through the space, while playing with the relationship of the different artworks in a gallery. Watch an interview of Mirza as he speaks of his processes for a work at Lisson Gallery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lal40ahCS-4

Taka Tak, a show Mirza exhibited in 2008, was developed through a residency he completed in Lahore. This work is a succinct example of Mirza's practice in neatly combining utility, technology and artistic intention. Taka Tak is a traditional Islamic dish, the name of which is derived from the rhythmic, almost musical sound of it being made, typically by a street chef with a big chopping board and knife. A technical and cultural investigation, Mirza spent his time in Lahore observing this practice and the culture of the area, concurrently pursuing his technical research, exploring ways of generating electrical sound with LED lights. The resulting work is an entrancing and beautiful piece that reflects the cultural significance and the tension surrounding rhythm and music in Islamic culture. Mirza talks about these tensions in Taka Takin an interview on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtX_xK1Qq7U

Read more about Mirza's work at his Click Folio info page http://www.clickfolio.com/haroon/

at the New Museum website http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/preoccupied-waveforms and in a review for Frieze Magazine http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/haroon-mirza/

Find out more about the fims commissioned for Random Acts here.