FOLD Gallery | London is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Una Knox, curated by Erica Shiozaki.
In filmmaking, room tone is the ‘silence’ recorded at a location or space. This silence is distinct, a presence created by the space boundaries – walls, ceiling, floor and other objects in the room, in relation to a microphone.
Knox’s research-based practice encompasses various media, including moving image, print and performance. For this exhibition, Knox’s works explore architecture through sound, incorporating thoughts on technologies, voice, fiction and historical events. Within a tropical landscape a speech pathologist, working with the human body as acoustic space, uses voice to sound out and understand the surrounding inner and outer atmospheres.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and an evening of films selected by the curator and artist.
Una Knox is an artist based in London, UK, originally from Vancouver, Canada. Knox’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, Cell Project Space, London; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Postmaster Gallery, NYC, NY; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; Transmission Gallery, Glasgow and Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester. She is the recipient of The Red Mansion Art Prize, BC Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts grants, and her work has been featured in publications including Art Monthly magazine, Art Review magazine, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Vancouver Sun.
Erica Shiozaki is a writer and curator based in London. Shiozaki is the inaugural recipient of the Florence Trust Curatorial Resident, supported by the Arts Council of England. She is also the recipient of Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grant. Her writings appear in national and international publications and catalogues, including Misery Connoisseur; 40 Years of ING Engaging with the Arts and online.
The exhibition was made possible with the support of the Florence Trust Curatorial Residence Programme, London, UK; Western Front Society, Vancouver, Canada; and Arts Council England.
By Erica Shiozaki
In plant hunting terminology, the ‘discovery’ of a plant describes an official recognition of a particular specimen, where as ‘introduction’ is when a plant is brought to the host country. The Victorian era saw a surge in botanical study and many plant hunters including William Lobb and Joseph Hooker, sailed around the world to collect new specimens. With new plants arriving from various countries such as India, Brazil, and the Philippines, Victorian glasshouses often acted as herbariums and laboratories that enabled botanists to further develop their knowledge. The introduction of specimens from unknown territories expanded their perceptions of the world and how they position themselves within it.
Through the medium of film and photography, artist Una Knox explores the subject of sound. Her works bring renewed introduction to the concept of noise by highlighting the sense of hearing, and Knox examines how we generate and perceive sound to understand the world around us. In her film sounding out – plant hunters, space seekers, listeners, fakers, keepers (2014) a woman wonders down a curved path surrounded by lush vegetation – birds cry over her head and the woman thoughtfully harmonizes with them. The faint singing of birds in the distance makes the viewer aware of the space between them and the woman’s echo. She wanders through the dome, following the sounds as she integrates her own. The melodic echo of her voice is in turn quickly traced by a series of high-pitched chirps from Finches or a loud cry from parrots that overshadow her croon, and here, the most fundamental elements of communication is revealed – the generation and perception of vocal sounds.
Filmed inside a triodetic dome, sound comes to play a large role in the perception of space, the rustling bamboo leaves or the trickling waterfall orchestrate a utopian sound, a promised land coloured by vibrant animals and deep green verdure. The idea of a ‘new world’ – an idyllic perception of the unknown future – is a prominent theme in Knox’s film, and by using the sense of sight and sound she investigates the interstices between the old and new world, known and unknown. The coming of new plants and species from across the globe invigorated Victorian botanists in constructing an idea of an unknown place, and similarly, the geodesic design popularised by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1950s and 60s helped trigger an appetite for an alternative approach or understanding of the near future. Knox’s sounding out brings to forefront the challenge of how one approximates or envisions something that is not known, and questions how elements of the known fabricate the very definition of perceived unknown.
Another work within the exhibition is Knox’s series of photographs tric switch taw hitch (2014). In contrast to her film, her photographs may not emit any auditory noise, however, they visually transcribe the notion of sound and time into layers of colourful forms that are manifested in large-scale abstract compositions. In these compositions, echoes become vibrant shadows that seem to fade away shade by shade, minute by minute, and translucent yellows under phosphorescent green describe a moment in time that has once passed, or is yet to come. Knox’s photographs elucidate the physical and the metaphysical qualities of sound and its relationship to time, where past, present and future only exist as potentials that cannot be described in a liner fashion.
The use of sound and its technological gain has been influential in accumulating knowledge that previously was only be ascribed to human imagination. Its scientific development has been witnessed in the production of Acoustic Location and surveys for seismic activities, which have both utilised travelling sound waves to detect matter. The growing knowledge of sound assisted human society to continuously define and redefine our current environment, to understand and expand on the perception of the physical world we live in. In adding to this development, Knox’s work proposes a more philosophical challenge around the existence of sound and how it relates to the human body. It provides a renewed sense of sound.
 Acoustic Location is a machine that determines the distance and direction of a specific object in the air. Seismic activity surveys have also played a key role to measuring underground structures through the use of sound vibrations.