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Yellow Sound

2005 Igor Kopystiansky Born: Lvov, Ukraine 1954 Svetlana Kopystiansky Born: Voronez, Russia 1950 single-channel video, black and white, silent; 04:33 minutes Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of an anonymous donor © 2005, Kopystianksy 2009.43 Not currently on view

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Svetlana and Igor Kopystiansky titled this work after Wassily Kandinsky’s theater production of the same name, linking it to a larger history of experimental art forms and invoking the significance of musical performance to the visual arts. The running time of four minutes and thirty-three seconds references the radical composition 4’33” (1952), in which the avant-garde composer John Cage approached a piano, lifted the lid, and sat motionless in silence for the full duration, allowing ambient sounds in the performance hall to determine the listening experience. Here, Yellow Sound displays found film of a stylus silently playing a record on a turntable. Its rotation is almost imperceptible. The only instance of change is the intermittent appearance and disappearance of imperfections layered on the surface of the original film. Extending Cage’s provocative suggestion, chance is visually rendered here through light and dust.

Watch This!: Revelations in Media Art, 2015


media arts