Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Communication in translation

by Christy Wahl

Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, MO
July 9, 2010-January 22, 2011

Ann Hamilton’s stylus is less an installation than a visual and aural experience. Hamilton has animated the Pulitzer space and created an inversion of the senses. The various stations within the space act as tools or producers of communication.

The touch pad, where one is asked to “sign-in,” triggers the pianos in the Cube and the Lower Gallery to sound in response. In the Main Gallery, a microphone and a rolling table sit on a steel table and when one speaks into the microphone the “talking pianos” answer the call with a flurry of notes; the movement of the piano keys makes the voice palpable. Within the environment there is the sound of materiality.

stylus - a project by Ann Hamilton, 2010. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Visitors are encouraged to try on the paper hands that sit paired in the cubbies in the Main Gallery. Even the hands have their own sound emission. Hamilton is asking us to see things differently and to pay attention, but she is also inviting us to have fun.

stylus - a project by Ann Hamilton, 2010. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Unlike most installations, this one is interactive (jumping beans excluded) and has built into it a wonderful element of play. Visitors can don paper hands, play a piano, pick out records, and peruse books. The rolling table in the Main Gallery evokes memories of the old Labyrinth game and the image projected on the wall when one first enters the space is either clapping or boxing your ears. The input of the viewer is paramount to the installation; however one may choose how to interpret the experience.

stylus remains on view through January 22, 2011. Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is located at 3716 Washington Blvd. St. Louis, MO. 314/754-1850. Admission is free. Gallery hours: W 12-5 p.m., Th 6-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Christy Wahl holds degrees in art history and liberal arts. She enjoys making, writing about, and looking at art. As a Wisconsin native, she also enjoys beer and cheese.

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