While the exhibition, organized by CJM’s chief curator Renny Pritikin, makes no attempt to weigh in on thorny economic issues, it does strike an optimistic tone, asserting that art and tech can coexist, just as they did in the decades before the current technology boom turned them into unwitting adversaries. To underscore that point, NEAT takes as its model the groundbreaking collaborations between prominent New York artists (e.g. Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Robert Whitman) and Bell Labs engineers that began in 1966 and operated for several years under the name Experiments in Art and Technology (E. A. T.), Since then, scaled-down versions of those shows have been mounted in galleries and museums internationally, the most recent in 2008.
With Tympanic Alley, a sound installation composed of metal clips banging on 60 small pie tins, Paul DeMarinis reminds us that technology needn’t be of a high sort to be effective. The tins (tart pans, actually) are attached to tiny speakers. They’re suspended from the ceiling at different elevations and activated, at irregular intervals, by electronic pulses that set off a rousing cacophony reminiscent of rain on a tin roof or a wildly out-of-synch steel drum ensemble. But, if you stand and listen – or better yet, wend your way through this garden of hanging sound pods — rhythmic and melodic patterns emerge, shifting in and out of phase according to where you stand and which tins are being activated at any given moment. All very John Cage/Harry Partch.