New School Rock: Martin Klimas Turns Paint Up to 11


Whether he’s listening to Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” or Beethoven’s Fifth, Martin Klimas always cranks it up to eleven. And then some.

Before starting on a piece, Klimas isolates a specific sound from a particular song. He then applies extremely fluid paint in various colors onto a thin membrane stretched over a speaker facing straight up. When he plays the burst of selected noise at an extremely high volume, the paint leaps up in graceful globs, which he captures with a high-speed camera. A blast of sound from Jamiroquai’s “Space Cowboy” propels bright tendrils skyward, the paint entwining into psychedelic corkscrews on the fly. The stark black backgrounds set the biomorphic eruptions off like rock stars in multihued spotlights.

In a series of diptychs, large photographs of old-school synthesizers crisscrossed with tangles of garish patch cords are juxtaposed with powdery explosions of dry pigments. In PPG Modular 300 (2013), yellow and green cables droop gracefully in the left-hand panel, routing the sound waves that generate the flowery puffs of color on the right.

Following the path of Harold Edgerton, who in 1952 used a 1/100,000,000-of-a-second exposure to capture the horrific beauty of an atomic fireball, Klimas employs ultra-fast photography to make visible what we thought we could only hear.

‘Martin Klimas: Soundworks’
Foley Gallery
59 Orchard Street, 212-244-9081
Through May 22


Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.