Ed Osborn's Harvester requires that visitors not touch the piece. For most people familiar with electronic art, the hesitation to actively experiment with installations has long been diminished and is in fact the most common denominator of the medium. Osborn's piece is part of a trend that explores how media art that is seemingly low-tech and code-free can be as significant as work that is visibly complex in both construction and meaning. Participation in Harvester is the mere act of being present in the space between microphones whose conflated physical and acoustic space forms a system that is ubiquitous and volatile.
Harvester comprises numerous swaying microphones attached by a flexible rod to stands throughout the gallery. Each microphone picks up ambient sounds within the gallery – people moving and talking – and plays a filtered version of the sounds through loudspeakers. These amplified sounds from the speakers in turn add to the ambient sounds picked up by the microphones and a looping network of sound is produced. In addition, the movement of microphones results in the picking up of sounds from various levels within the space, leading to variations in the sonic output from the speakers. The central concern of the piece is the interaction between bodies and audio waves, again emphasizing the visitor's role as a variable through the presence of his or her form as opposed to an active modification of technology within the work.
Osborn is a sound artist based in Oakland, US and Berlin, Germany. He has performed, exhibited, lectured and held residencies throughout the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and South America. The recipient of many awards, including a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Stipendium and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he served as the Director of SoundCulture ‘96, a San Francisco Bay Area-wide festival of the sonic arts of the Pacific region, and is represented by the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco. Osborn was recently appointed a teaching position at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Harvester was developed with support from the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany, and is shown courtesy of the Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.