As a purely audio experience, Richard Garet´s installation Meta is an extended field recording masquerading as a drone – quite “meta”, then.
On site (it has been mounted at three different New York galleries), we are informed that “transducers…are attached to the wall on each corner of a perfectly drawn six foot square… When the listener places his/her ear to the wall the work can be experienced differently every time…”, begging the question, Where are these sounds coming from – the wall itself or something on the other side of the wall? Garet wants to draw attention to the ostensibly dull ambience of our surroundings, bringing us in more intimate contact with the real soundtrack of our daily lives.
At the very beginning of Meta the CD, tones are sharp and not particularly ear-to-the-wall friendly, but they recede, as if having adjusted themselves to the strange environment, and settle into a low, soothing hum. Piercing or purring, either way, they certainly fulfil the remit of exposing sound that is ordinarily blocked out, like unattractive studs and struts behind smooth, decorative panelling. What could be dishwater snakes down what could be copper plumbing, some of which seeps out of faulty joints to interact ominously with the electrical wiring, the sizzle before the short circuit.
After all this twittering, something out of House of Leaves happens – a vastness opens up, where no vastness should be. Like coming round the bend on a hike and chancing upon a secret waterfall in the distance, or standing alone in a long, concrete underpass in the rain. Garet makes something grand and orchestral out of it, as it dilates wider and wider. The vastness morphs into a city subway, our ears floating from platform to track and up to the curved ceiling. A pleasant cacophony is achieved, “achieved” being the operative word, since it brings more attention to the possibilities of the manipulation of quotidian sound than their humdrum existence itself – to the efforts of the artist, in other words. As it recedes, we are treated to the gentle waterfall again. Unless it is an eddy of third-rail static.