Diane Landry

P.O. Box 31463
January 12, 2008–February 23, 2008

École d'aviation (Flying School) (detail), 2000, umbrellas, harmonicas, motors, steel, halogen lamp, MIDI controller, and computer, dimensions variable.

Diane Landry’s installation École d’aviation (Flying School), 2000, comprises twenty-four umbrellas—none by any stretch of the imagination elegant or even monochromatic—ranging in pattern from bookish bears and polychromatic flowers to two-tone blue tartan and colorful confectionary. Lit from below and mounted on steel tubes outfitted with a tape measure, these umbrellas open and close mournfully in concert with a wistful fugue generated by small, motor-driven accordions and electronic harmonicas that double as pedestals for the ready-made totems. A mildly concave white sheet suspended from the ceiling captures the steady expansion and retraction of the umbrellas as dark, shape-shifting fractals, creating a panoramic, kaleidoscopic effect. Though this assemblage of sound, movement, and form is unwieldy, ultimately the elements cohere and cooperate. The kinetic mechanism, though rather ad hoc and completely undisguised, does not detract from the poignant melody, nor does the combined effect of sound and motion distract attention from the silhouettes that play across the sheet above. While some works of visual art that metaphorize, derive from, or are inspired by sound or music fail as visual phenomena precisely because they mean to approximate unique sensations derived from auditory stimulus, with this installation, Landry has designed a way to render the visual musical and vice versa. École d’aviation is an epically untidy but ultimately hypnotic synthesis of visual, kinetic, and auditory concerns—a playful Gesamtkunstwerk in which each element retains complete, discrete integrity while contributing to an immersive multimedia experience.

— Christopher Bedford