Artist: Archie Barry
Curators: Max Delany, Annika Kristensen and Miriam Kelly
I try to participate in Archie Barry’s new art on the internet. I open the browser to Multiply and press play, bow the laptop with its residual slime, symposiums, 'catch-ups' and wash my hands. I’ve racked them up, reams of micro-films and they touch, serried and go on in circuitry. I sit on the edge of the bed and at the same time try to stop the room so I can listen.
Multiply is a five-track score and is the artist’s first solely sound-based project commissioned and launched by The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art as part of ACCA Open. This new work sits comfortably with the artist’s existing works, Tatasche (2017) and Fistimuff (2019), which navigate ideas of self-determination, interdependence, personhood, mortality, surveillance, digital intimacies and questioning systems of knowledge. The form of listening-only requires a subsequent imagining, enveloping rather than requiring your focus or attention.
In the first track, Breeding, I am reminded of the high sound of my own nervous system in operation, speaker cables touching and dropping, blood in circulation.
Repeat after me
In your mind or in your mouth
Vocalised whispers and metronomic tapping, sounds toss around in a synthetic canyon.
I won’t let them standardise my senses
Pain breeds compassion
which breeds pain which breeds compassion
Submerged, there is a knock on the door. Sci-fi textures, vortices, soft-techno.
Barry’s vocals are doubled, multiplied and stretched. I am at the height of the handle. I open the door to a new set of images. Samples tested across the echo of a dormant laboratory. I am around now, with every cell, open to somatic, signalling, virtuality. The voice of the virus mutates and wrestles.
Thicker Water Everywhere is crystal clear with reverberation, acoustic, one voice with an intelligible lyrical focus — gaming, slot-machine synth rings to an escalade and at once, a dog barking.
The persona scheme is the sadness of an apartment building being built.
Thicker water everywhere, makes cleaner brain washing.
Flood-lit amphitheatre of whatever you’re thinking
See how algorithmic governance goes underneath
Warmth and care is massive begins with alien sonic squeals, radio emissions, ascending to a dislocated space.
Supervisions holds this mystique like a provisional town at dusk, unintelligible voices in unlocation, unmarked laughter, familiar, imitations bolstered by synth, coughing, running hallways. I remember being 10 or 11 years old, playing Need for Speed with control, not looking down until I became the car, crashing out at night when all the roads became my body.
We’re already awake
Now, determining space, the voice is solo, multiplying into full choir. All ranges are the artist. Tenderness presides over these concatenations of personas.
You can’t see him, but he can see you
Debuilding is at first a muffled, monotonous tempo. Futures, exhumed.
My body will die, but I will live.
Multiply resonates with and conjures a haptic experience in a time suffused with screens. In a way, distinct from and yet continuous with their previous works, Multiply offers a distilled and respiring visitation towards open surroundings, away from confines of ocular-centric expression and towards our own stored information, matter and thinking. Stories are interweaved with the configuration of sounds, oneiric prompts across domestic, urban and digitised lives. The structure is the multiplicity of voices and deformation of language that make up the aesthetic quality. The artist, through their virtuosity and sensitivity to complex feeling states, connects and guides us to not only listen, but also encounter our own physical and self-sensations.
Thomas McCammon is a writer and artist based in Naarm.