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Videosonic Art by Michael Sheridan

Videosonic Art by Michael Sheridan

Kineruku Layar Tancep
Jl. Hegarmanah 52
Saturday, 19 July 2008
7 pm – end

Michael Sheridan is a US born documentary filmmaker and experimental videosonic artist.  His work addresses issues of social development and the tipping point between order and chaos.  Michael’s interest in these issues arises from his experiences of families falling apart and reuniting and societies teetering on the verge of collapse or recovering from conflict and disaster.

Michael’s artwork has been exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Cyberarts Festival and the GASP gallery in Boston.  His work on documentaries has appeared on PBS, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Network and National Geographic TV.  The National Education Media Network, the Columbia International Film and Video Festival, the United Nations Association Film Festival, and EarthVision have awarded his work.

All of Michael’s work is influenced by his extensive travels throughout Europe, South Asia, Africa and the Americas.  For the last year Michael has been in Indonesia as a Senior Fulbright Scholar teaching at ITB and IKJ and making films.  You can see and read more about Michael’s work at


1. Installation Art
Feeding the Fire, 2005, 166 minutes, documentation: 2:00
Digital video, quadraphonic sound, burlap, cloth and twine.

The multi-channel videosonic installation, Feeding the Fire, creates a meditative space in which to contemplate the fundamentals of life.  One of three projected images captures the Rathod family in India beginning their day, socializing around a fire and preparing a meal – which, after one-and-a-half hours of preparation, is accidentally spilled into the fire.  To each side of this tale of the fragility of existence, images of what might be stars, grains of wheat or microorganisms emerge from or descend into a void.  These images are accompanied by the sound of one person exhaling and another inhaling.  The totality of the videosonic experience references the constancy of time and the essence of its terminal and eternal nature.

Review of Feeding the Fire from Big Red and Shiny, October 2005

… On Summer Street, Michael Sheridan’s brilliant video installations alone merit a visit to the Fort Point Channel. Sheridan’s politics are more constructive than most on display around the neighborhood. His focus is directly on dignity and survival. As such, food takes center stage in this series of videos, projected onto screens of coarse burlap, adding an arresting dimension of texture and smell to the work. Filmed in western India, Sheridan’s hours long film, Feeding the Fire, of a woman preparing the daily meal is projected from above and forms the center piece of a triptych, flanked by spiraling images of grinding grain. …  For collectors touring the Open Studios, it’s nearly impossible to experience such video installations and not wonder how to display such a demanding art form in one’s own home, but these are questions any serious collector of contemporary art ought to address. …

Distant Views/Culture Catchers
, 2005, documentation: 1:30
Short wave radios, digital recorders and players, motion detectors, micro computers, amplifiers, speakers, wire and antennae hung by suction-cups on a wall of windows.

A sound installation created for the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival.  The movement of visitors triggers short wave radios to search for and play sounds being broadcast from around the world.  At any one moment one might hear, for example, Persian music, Christian proselytizing and the day’s news in Korean.

Review of Culture Catchers from Big Red and Shiny, March 2006
Thread Counts @ GASP
by Jonathan Fardy

… Finally and not lastly, I must mention Michael Sheridan’s Culture Catcher, a giant console of electronic gadgetry that picked up signals from all over the world. The piece was sensitive to its own environment in that it picked up on the motion of people in the gallery which (among other things) would trigger it to suddenly go off spilling its babble. Culture Catcher is tuned in to more than just radio signals: it’s attuned to major issues around and through which we communicate and live. It speaks of displacement, multiculturalism, interconnectivity as well as fragmentation. For me it was the keynote work of the show, in that it quite literally weaves together information, culture, and technology, but that the tapestry it creates is mutable, changing, unstable, open and receptive.

2. Sound Art
This is foreign
Installation with sitting area, magazines and sound, 2007

This is foreign explores the cultural and physical experience of dislocation and being “the other” in a new locale.  It was created during the time I lived in Jakarta Indonesia in 2007-08 and presented as part of the exhibit Some Sort of Uncertainty at the Axiom New Media Gallery in Boston in 2008. This exhibition required that the artists create ‘invisible’ work.  The viewer would enter what appeared to be an empty gallery and then search and discover the artwork.

For This is Foreign  a sitting area was created with magazines.  The magazines at first glance appear natural to the gallery setting.  On further inspection the viewer finds the subjects and language foreign.  Most of the magazines emulate a “Western” look and have covers in English with the contents in Bahasa Indonesia – the national language.

In the office area of the gallery, behind this sitting area, a sound piece was installed.  Through the sound piece elements of my living environment in Jakarta, Indonesia were inserted into the aural and physical space of the Axiom gallery.  As if playing on the radio in the backroom of the gallery, the BBC news tells stories of cultural anomalies and events in Indonesia.  Inter-cut are the ambient sounds of my apartment and long-distance phone conversations with family and friends.

This is foreign intends to dislocate while maintaining allegiance to the “invisible-art” construct of the exhibition Some Sort of Uncertainty.  The visitor is left to juggle the actual sounds and objects of the gallery with the visual and aural imaginations coming from the magazine images, news stories, phone conversations and background sounds of  a far away place.  Through the process of deciphering what is real we participate in the everyday act of developing vague perceptions (or misperceptions) and imaginations about what ‘the other’ is thinking, believing and doing.

Certain Uncertainty, 2005, 4:40
Surround Sound

A sound composition created from recordings of a performance ensemble.  One half were instructed to improvise off the idea of sighing with uncertainty.  The other half were asked to respond by slapping the uncertain sighs with certainty.

xcape, 2004, 5:30
Quadraphonic sound

A sound installation reflecting on human nature’s resistance to respond heroically to aggression.  When suddenly attacked by people with stones and bottles, instead of looking to protect those around you, you run for cover driven by the fear of pain.

3. Single Channel Video Art
Instant Noodles, Videosonic installation, 2008, 8 min
A piece by Michael Sheridan in collaboration with eminent Indonesian choreographer Sardono Kusumo and performer Yola Yulfianti, with special thanks to Greenpeace for Indonesian forest fire footage.  Instant Noodles was part of the exhibition Greed, Guilt and Grappling-Six Artists Respond to Global Warming at the Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts.

From my 7th floor balcony in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, the sky shifts from a high-humidity haze to a blue-gray smog.  The pollution (and fantastic sunsets) is created by smoke emanating from burning trash, traffic and forest fires.

Eight thousand square miles of tropical forest, equivalent to the size of Massachusetts, is cut down each year in Indonesia.  The ‘recovered land’ is turned into prosperous plantations of oil palm.  Palm oil is used primarily to prepare and preserve foods such as instant noodles (and KitKat bars and Pringle chips….) so they can be kept “fresh” in their plastic wrappings.

Indonesia is the largest producer of Palm Oil and instant noodles and the biggest tree chopper and forest burner in the world.  The depletion of the tropical jungle removes the planet’s primary means of absorbing CO2 emissions.  Therefore, Indonesia is now the third greatest contributor to global warming – after the US and China.

The art work’s focus on instant noodles came out of a series of conversations I had with my collaborator, premier Indonesian choreographer and dancer Sardono Kusumo. I approached Sardono in October because I had looked at his work and noted his focus on forest destruction, the preservation of forest communities and on the impact of plastic on the environment in Indonesia. Subsequently he looked at my work and noted my previous focus on material consumption and food.  We selected instant noodles because it is a ubiquitous food on the international market and a product readily familiar to an American audience.  We felt it important to address the issue through a material that our main audience – Americans – would have a direct relationship to.

In Instant Noodles the precision and timelessness of traditional Indonesian dance is used as a contrasting lament for our careless consumption and the permanent damage caused by our desire for immediate satisfaction.

You can see and

Review of Instant Noodles from The Boston Globe, March 2008
Familiar perspectives on global warming
By Kate McQuaid, Globe Art Critic

Michael Sheridan’s video installation “Instant Noodles” deftly ties traffic, forest fires, the destruction of tropical rainforests, and the consumption of ramen noodles in a conceptual bow that is both disturbing and drolly funny.

Review of Instant Noodles from The Boston Globe, February 2008
The art of war against climate change
By Amy Farnsworth, Globe Correspondent

In the video, a pregnant woman dances in the aisles of an Indonesian supermarket, plunking packages of instant noodles into her shopping cart while behind her fires are ravaging trees, leaving behind a desolate landscape.

When Boston artist Michael Sheridan saw the pollution rising from the forests of Indonesia from his apartment window in Bandung, where he is completing art installations as a senior Fulbright scholar, he was inspired to create a new work, this one documenting the environmental impact of palm oil and its use in processed foods.

Sheridan is part of a group of Massachusetts artists who have banded together to generate discussion on global warming through their exhibition, “Greed, Guilt and Grappling: Six artists Respond to Climate Change,” in the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts. The exhibition, which runs through March 30, surveys the damage linked to climate change by forging unique connections between art and the environment.

Forever More, 2006, 3:26 looped, Ahmedabad, India;  Digital video, silent.

Forever More tells an Indian story about a table set with food for a family gathering.  From start to finish, the consumption is never allowed to outpace the supply.

Shift, 2005, 4:00
Single channel digital video and stereo sound.

In Shift two bodies are videotaped while sleeping.  As the forms move together and apart they reference the complexity of  intimacy and unity.  It is remarkable that we have the unconscious capacity to accommodate each other’s movement while sleeping.  But then, when we are awake, accommodation is often so much more difficult.

Counter Crisis, 2004, 5:20
Single channel digital video with stereo sound.

For Counter Crisis a camera was mounted above a cafeteria counter where dishes were being returned for washing.  The dishes pile up and fall over and become a humorous metaphor for our habits of avoiding responsibility for the root-causes of problems while responding heroically to disasters.

After the Event:


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