JTF (just the facts): A total of 10 color photographs, framed in black and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space. All of the works are pigment prints, made in 2011. Each print is sized 22×17 and is available in an edition of 8. The back room contains a 7 print selection of Klimas’ earlier work. (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: High speed stop motion photography has always held the promise of the unreal and the fantastic, capturing events that normally pass us by in the blink of an eye. Starting with Eadweard Muybridge’s galloping horse images for Leland Stanford in the 19th century and followed by Dr. Harold Edgerton’s scientific studies of bullets passing through apples and milk droplets jumping into perfect crowns, these kinds of images deftly combined technology and art, mixing astonishing subject matter and bleeding edge technical prowess. German photographer Martin Klimas is one of a new generation of artists (including Ori Gerhst and Shinichi Maruyama among others) continuing in this line of visual investigation, pushing the newest tools further and further. While his previous projects have included the split second breaking of falling porcelain figurines and projectile smashed flower vases, his new works go one step further to document the invisible, in this case, the explosive power of sound.
We might normally think about visualizing sound as waves, measuring their frequency and amplitude with an oscilloscope or charting their loudness in decibels. But Klimas has crafted an ingenious new method of seeing the energy of sound, pulling a thin membrane across the top of a loudspeaker and letting the blasts of sound create upward vibrations, almost like a drum. He then pools different combinations of watery neon paint on top of the membrane (think Blue Man Group), and when the sound hits, they jump into the air with the gestural power of an action painter. Captured in fractions of a second and seemingly frozen solid, they take on remarkably different forms, depending on the music that was playing: Wagner and Kraftwerk splash into millions of tiny droplets, while Miles Davis and Prince swirl into elongated squiggles. Hot combinations of exuberant colors make the bursts and eruptions all the more dynamic.
It’s certainly possible to geek out at this show, replaying the music in your head and trying to puzzle out why the music of John Cage, Pink Floyd, and Grace Jones looks exactly the way it does (was it the thump of the bass line, a guitar solo, or the crash of the percussion?). But the explosions of fluid paint also function as vigorous vertical abstractions, like stalagmites of instantaneous energy. In the end, when the exact right moment occurs, Klimas takes sound and gives it a dazzling visual form, allowing it to dance across the frame. Who knew the physical manifestation of sound was so flashy and effervescent?
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced in ratcheting editions, with some at $3500, others at $5000, and one already sold out. Klimas’ work has little secondary market history, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.