musée d'art contemporain
de Bordeaux

Max Neuhaus

Two passages bearing between shadows and daylight identical in form, diverging in spirit, 1993




Two parts ; wood, loudspeaker and computer ;  1046 x 17 cm each part.

Ceiling of south and west stairs between the grounds floor and the mezzanine.

This twofold sound and light piece works uninterruptedly, but is barely perceptible. It alternates  low and high sounds, wavering between continuity and discontinuity, produced by a computer programme. Each system is complemented by a lit railing which indirectly illuminates the tunnel vault of the stairway. Spectators are invited to experience nothing less than a three-dimensional listening act, because the audible boundaries are only due here to the gradual fading of the signal’s density, as you slowly move away from the work. Max Neuhaus highlights the fact that sounds can at once reveal the environment containing them and simultaneously have a thoroughly autonomous life.

Max Neuhaus was born in 1939 in Beaumont,Texas and died in Maratea, Italy, in 2009. In the 1960s, he was a percussionist and performed contemporary music; he played as a soloist during a Pierre Boulez America-wide tour. He is the inventor of the term Sound Installations to describe his work: the production of sounds which do not develop within acoustic events but are installed in time-frames and specifically for places (site specificity). Basing his work on the principle that our sense of space depends on what we hear, as much as on what we see, he uses a given social and auditory context as the point of departure to propose a new perception of places.
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