Stealing Audio in San Diego


Recognizing the influence of DJ-derived techniques of appropriation on artistic practices, for the past ten years, curators at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art have had an initiative in place to acquire work that demonstrates strategies of recycling, recombining, and otherwise recontextualizing material. Thanks to this push, the institution has built an impressive collection of contemporary sound-based work that embraces a spirit of appropriation, and it forms the backbone of the exhibition Soundwaves: The Art of Sampling at the museum's La Jolla location through December 30. The show features recent work by 16 artists, including Dave Muller, Dario Robleto, Alyce Santoro, and Diana Thater, that range in media from audio installations to painting. Some literally create sound by adapting material not typically used for that purpose, as in Celeste Boursier-Mougenot's 'Untitled (series #3),' from 2001. Channeling John Cage and 1950s concrete music, the installation floats a collection of china inside inflatable wading pools to produce noise through the chance rippling of the water. Others take from audio material to compose visual work. Tim Bavington, for example, presents well known pop songs as blocks of bright color in painted abstractions