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Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens -- Parabolica


High-Tech Gallery is Transformed Into "a Bell Curve of Activity"


Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens showcases the work of innovative, Oakland-based sound artist Ed Osborn in Parabolica, which runs in high-tech Gallery Three thru June 2.

"My creative work falls into two areas--sound composition and visual pieces that incorporate sound," says Osborn. "I work on the experimental edges of music, and a good part of this work involves questioning the assumptions and traditions of musical culture." One of the recurring themes in his work is giving voice to ordinary experiences and, in doing so, illustrating some of the shared boundaries of the human condition. Through his explorations of sound, he has examined issues of personal control, physical experience, relationships to authority and even ideas of heaven and the afterlife. His present installation "plays themes of free will and self-determination against notions of perpetual containment and loss of control. It articulates an individual presence cycling endlessly in a larger unknown."

In more technical terms, this aesthetic is achieved by using materials from a model train set--specifically a train car equipped with a speaker that broadcasts a variety of sounds as it circles around a track. This single track comprises a closed loop, with one portion dividing into an elaborate matrix of many tracks which eventually feed back onto the single track. The switch settings in the matrix are changed randomly with each circling of the train, such that its trajectory is different each time it passes through the matrix. Each variation in the trajectory has its own sound associated with it, referring to authority (whistles, bells and sirens), repetition (mechanical activity of all sorts), forces of nature and social context. When one stops to examine the many facets of the installation, it becomes clear that for all of Osborn's fascination with the wonders of sound, Parabolica employs far more than the ear of its audience. On the contrary, it is a whirlwind of activity which forces the viewer to utilize all of the senses to fully experience it.

Osborn has built an impressive resume of exhibitions and performances across the country and throughout the world. He earned his MFA from Mills College in Oakland and his subsequent works have been shown in both solo and group exhibitions in a myriad of locations, from The LAB in San Francisco to the Logos Foundation in Belgium. He has also held teaching and lecturing positions at the San Francisco Art Institute, University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Parabolica's residency at Center for the Arts coincides with SoundCulture, the third trans-Pacific festival of contemporary sound practices, taking place in San Francisco this spring. It follows two highly successful events presented in Sydney in 1991 and Tokyo in 1993, and features participants from the worlds of art, research, academia and cultural theory who explore the diversity of sound. Events include performances, exhibitions, installations, symposia and experiments in new media arts.

Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens is an independent non-profit arts complex which opened to wide international acclaim in October, 1993.