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"Hourly Directional: Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel" opens at MIT List Visual Arts Center
Hourly Directional: Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel. Photo: Ernst Karel.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- The MIT List Visual Arts Center presents Hourly Directional, an exhibition consisting of a single work: Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel’s quadraphonic sound installation Hourly directional sound recording, Mata Atlântica, Brazil (2012). This work is composed of location recordings made during eleven days of walking in remnants of coastal rainforests in southeastern Brazil.

For Hourly directional sound recording, Mata Atlântica, Brazil, Mirra and Karel stopped once each hour, using a compass to locate magnetic north. With microphones held at the ends of outstretched arms, they made two sequential one-minute two-channel recordings, the first with arms out to north and south, and the second towards east and west. At a distance from the microphones that increases each hour, the sound of a triangle, rung with a wooden mallet, indicates the direction of the path at that moment. The triangle sounds for one second in the first hour, two seconds in the second hour, three in the third, and so on, and at the start of the minute in the first hour, after seven seconds in the second hour, after fourteen in the third, and so on.

For a number of years, Mirra has been walking in different parts of the world as a means of generating works. Often the materialized aspect has been a kind of paced printmaking or terse field notes made at intervals over the course of the day, and in some cases, in collaboration with Karel, hourly location recordings. These works are nestled into a cycle of exhibitions that perpetuates the ongoing project. Hourly directional will be held at the List in conjunction with a solo exhibition of Mirra’s, which shares the same title and takes place in two parts at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the first in April 2014 and the second in April 2015.

The List and Radcliffe are together producing Edge Habitat Materials, 1995-2009, a book surveying Mirra’s work up to when the walking began, to be published by WhiteWalls Press and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, in addition to DAP. Contributors to the catalog will include List Assistant Curator Alise Upitis; Bradin Cormack, Professor in the Department of English at Princeton University; Liz Kotz, Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art at the University of California, Riverside; and Greg Williams, Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University. Edge Habitat, a comprehensive survey of Mirra’s text-line works, will open at Culturgest in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2014. Further, two ancillary books authored by Mirra are to be published concurrently: Durchschriften, a collection of writings (Berlin: Merve); and Views from Rocks, a book of photographs from the vantage point of rocks that were borrowed from the Swiss mountains in 1998 and returned in 2013 (Lisbon: Culturgest).

Helen Mirra’s many solo exhibitions include shows at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Berkeley Art Museum, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and Haus Konstruktiv, and she participated in both the 50th Venice Biennial and the 30th Sao Paulo Biennial. Mirra has received awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and Artadia. She was artist-in-residence at the Consortium for the Arts at the University of California, (Berkeley) and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and has been a guest of the DAAD Künstlerprogramm (Berlin), Office for Contemporary Art Norway (Oslo), Stiftung Laurenz-Haus (Basel), and Iaspis (Stockholm).

Ernst Karel’s audio work includes electroacoustic improvisation and composition, location recording, and sound for non-fiction films. Together with Pawel Wojtasik and Toby Kim Lee, he made Single Stream, a large-scale video and four-channel audio installation commissioned by the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York in 2013. Since 1999 Karel has performed and recorded together with Kyle Bruckmann in the electroacoustic duo EKG. Films for which Karel has edited and mixed sound include Sweetgrass, Foreign Parts, Leviathan, and Yumen. His most recent albums composed with location recordings are Materials Recovery Facility, Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, and Heard Laboratories.

Hourly Directional: Helen Mirra and Ernst Karel is curated by List Assistant Curator Alise Upitis.

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