In this solo exhibition, Ezra Masch presents his interpretation of the color organ, an audio-visual keyboard device originating during the early 18th century. Initially intended to “illuminate the secrets of the cosmos” by revealing a transcendent universal language, the color organ has been explored in various forms by figures such as Alexander Scriabin, Thomas Wilfrid, and Sun Ra. With his installation in Center Space, Masch creates a stage set for the instrument that functions both as an immersive sculptural space and as a site for musical performance. Inspired by the visionary aesthetics of sci-fi cinema and psychedelia, the stage set is intended as a transformative and participatory environment that blurs the line between performer and audience.
Masch’s work expresses a connection between music, social order, and the stars. From Pythagorean ideals of harmony in western classical music to counter-cultural models of psychedelic folk and funk, the celestial is presented alternatively as a symbol of order and of the unknown. In his work with the color organ, Masch pairs the tradition of improvised call-and-response with the visual representation of sound, creating experiences that are both spiritual and cerebral. With elaborate costuming and raucous energy, his performances belie a reverence for the genre-bending approach of groups like Parliament Funkadelic, The Sun Ra Arkestra, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Referencing scientific investigations of synesthesia, the rock-and-roll light show, and communication with alien life in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Music of the Spheres explores a desire to transcend the limitations of spoken language. In his performance at the VAC, Masch invites the audience to join him in a form of cathartic, non-verbal communication. By transforming the gallery into a concert venue, Masch treads the line between installation, performance, and social sculpture.
Masch will be playing his color organ in open practices during the run up to his performance on October 12.
Music of the Spheres is presented by Center Space Project, the student organization of the Visual Arts Center, which works collaboratively with fellow students, faculty, alumni, and visiting artists to create engaging shows and programs, promoting a strong student presence in the VAC.
Generous support for Music of the Spheres comes from Kelly and Christopher Ewin. Additional support for Center Space Project comes from the University Co-Op along with Robin and Trey Hancock.
Ezra Masch received a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004. Shortly thereafter, he relocated to Rome where he worked as a studio assistant to artist Baldo Diodatto while exhibiting his artwork at various galleries including Galleria L’acquario. His art has also been exhibited in national exhibitions including White Box: Hidden Hands in 2007 and the RISD NY Biennial in 2008. He is currently pursuing a MFA in Studio Art at The University of Texas at Austin. In summer 2011, Masch exhibited new work at the International Print Center in New York and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.