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Blaffer Art Museum hosts Nov. 8 premiere of public art installation
What Time Is It? by Jo Ann Fleischhauer enlivens Market Square in downtown Houston
The Blaffer Art Museum has collaborated with numerous community partners to present the premiere of What Time Is It? by Jo Ann Fleischhauer in collaboration with Musiqa, a site-specific public art installation at the Louis and Annie Friedman Clock Tower, also known as the Market Square Clock Tower, in downtown Houston's Historic District.
The unveiling of the exhibition will be celebrated on Friday November 8, 2013 from 7:30-9:30pm in Market Square Park with special remarks, the first "tolling" of the musical portion of the installation and a concert of modern chamber music by Musiqa called "Time Travel". This event is free and open to the public and will be on view from November 8, 2013 – March 29, 2014.
The work explores the concept of time and the relevancy of its physical markers in a digital age by interrogating the place of a clock tower in our everyday lives.
In What Time Is It?, applied mirror panels de-materialize the physical structure of the clock tower to the point of disappearance. A spiral staircase winds its way up and into the tower leading to the actual clock hovering at the top.
Together, mirrors and staircase de-emphasize the architecture of the tower and instead put visual emphasis on the clock and bell. However, the clock is not tolling time as expected.
Backlit images of historical notes and calculations about space and time that appear as constellations in the sky become the backdrop for the actual clock faces, their visibility and prominence shifting in intensity as the projected light circles through different shades of brightness and temperature.
Musiqa's collaboration addresses the auditory nature of the clock tower by replacing the scheduled chimes of bells with original musical works inspired by the site.
"C O'Clock" composed by Anthony Brandt and Chapman Welch runs through the entire duration of the exhibition by replacing the ringing of the bell with a progression of chords that rise and set like the sun. Each chord is complemented by ringing sounds that are improvised by a computer and make each tolling unique and unpredictable.
The sound source of both the underlying chords and the improvisations is Market Square itself, recorded street noise, which is filtered until it turns into pure tones. The computer-generated sounds are complemented by monthly live performances of compositions by students of the UH Moores School of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
What Time Is It? is organized by the Houston Arts Alliance and Blaffer Art Museum. Major support comes from the Houston Downtown Management District and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. Community partners include the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. The exhibition is on view 24-hours a day (music component audible daily 7 a.m. to midnight) on the corner of Travis and Congress Streets at Market Square from November through March.