A sight for sore ears

Visual and auditory devices make for a rockin’ 80s homage exhibit

Matt Rogalsky’s portion of the exhibit involved setting up 12 Fender Stratocaster guitars.
Matt Rogalsky’s portion of the exhibit involved setting up 12 Fender Stratocaster guitars.

An art exhibit can sometimes assault your eyes, but not often assault your ears as well.

Christopher Arnoldin, Jo-Anne Balcaen and Matt Rogalsky’s exhibit Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room asked me to use all of my senses and not just my sight.

Rogalsky had 12 fender Stratocaster guitars hooked up to amps in the gallery emitting varied guitar strummed noises and portraying rock and roll in all its loud, timeless glory.

His series is called Discipline and it stole my attention right away. The sounds echo off the walls and reverberated in different patterns of sound.

Not being a particular proponent for the powers of rock and roll, this loud noise initially put me off, but the riffs of electric sound soon drew me back.

When I finally took my eyes and ears away from Rogalsky’s work, I noticed the painted works of Arnoldin, which took up spots on two walls facing each other.

The paintings all varied in shapes (or lack thereof), but most of them followed the same colour palettes and shapes of stills from a rock music video.

When viewing Arnoldin’s pieces, perhaps it’s best to start with the bottom of the piece than the centre. The pieces titled 0:22/3:52, 0:33/3:52, 0:21/3:52, 0:21/3:52 Alt version, 1:38/3:51 and Unknown/3:52 are all given a progress bar reminiscent of the all-pervasive YouTube setup of a video, relating the 80s-themed work back to the present.

The rock beats kept going as I made my way to J Balcaen’s two works in the exhibit. One was tucked into the corner of the Main Gallery with a mirror, a small light and a pair of Sony Studio Monitor headphones.

Called Drag, the piece at first appears like a visual prop but then I realized that there was sound emerging from the headphones. When I put them on, it was hard to listen to the different thrums and random pops that were arranged on an audio track by Balcaen, primarily due to the sound of Rogalsky’s installation Discipline still echoing in the rest of the room.

There was something to be said for the subtlety in Balcaen’s work in contrast to Rogalsky’s more in-your-face musical approach, but both got the point across — an homage to the rock and roll of the 80s via Mötley Crüe’s unique style.

One doesn’t need to know much about rock and roll through the ages to admire the work on display, they just need to go and take it all in — Stratocasters, YouTube bars, audiotracks, picks and all.

Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room is on exhibit in the Main Gallery of Modern Fuel until Nov. 24.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.