British designer, Haroon Mirza opens his exhibition, Untitled Song, this Friday 8 March at mima, Middlesbrough. Living and working in London, Mirza’s influences range from electronics and science to avant-garde classical music. His primary interest is in creating sensory experiences with strange and startling sounds through a variety of new and old technologies, which in turn draws visitors to question their perceptions of the surrounding space.
The artist produces installations that are an eclectic mix of found bits of furniture and analogue electrical appliances, including radios, speakers and turntables. These installations are interspersed with fragments of other artists’ works and short pieces of films. Taking this working process into account, it is easy to see why Mirza has often described himself as a composer, and someone who pieces together “sculptural assemblages” that are lo-fi in nature with instrumentality at their heart. Mirza takes existing material and alters its function to compose works of organised noise that are often heard before they are seen, filling the spaces in which they are arranged.
Untitled Song features Untitled Works by James Clarkson (2011/12). Sheffield-based Clarkson produced four of the sculptures which were then adjusted by Mirza. Combining the sculptures with found furniture and acoustic equipment, Mirza approaches the project in the way a musician would produce a “concept album”. Within the piece, individual works flicker into life, setting off a chain reaction in which radio antennas spin on turntables to generate interference and old furniture is wired with LEDs.
Also featured within the exhibition is a display of drawings and diagrams that demonstrate the installation plans and the simple analogue circuitry that many of Mirza’s works are based on. Several walls in the gallery are lined with soundproof foam for a two-fold purpose, firstly to contain the sound and secondly to add a strong sculptural element of material and texture.
Haroon Mirza: Untitled Song, 8 March – 6 June, mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Centre Square, Middlesbrough, TS1 2AZ
Haroon Mirza, Installation view, Spike Island (Jan-Mar 2012), Untitled Song, featuring Untitled Works by James Clarkson, 2012 (detail). Courtesy the artist and Spike Island. Photo Stuart Whipps.