Review: Richard Garet – Meta

Richard Garet - MetaI hear the sounds I usually ignore. The sounds that lay outside of my subjective sensory pathway; the 30,000 sounds that don’t shape the way I perceive the world at any given moment (in contrast to the handful of sounds that do), all compacted into a foregrounded object. It’s a sculpture in ode to the plain of sensory neglect. Ventilator drones, electronic hums, metallic crinkles and distant echoes stack themselves into a beautiful tower that I can no longer push to my peripheral awareness or discard as irrelevant. I stand in the shadow of my own naivety and ill judgement.

As an installation, Meta takes the form of four transducers arranged into a six-foot square. The listener presses an ear against the wall and listens to the vibrations that judder through the surface and the ear itself. In this act, there is a metaphorical translation taking place – the listener actively focuses on the edge of their given space rather than a central object, inverting the prioritising arrangement that the mind subconsciously applies to any given soundscape. As a stereo, 52 minute piece of audio, Meta is an aquarium tank of debris drifting and rotating – a strange murk of numb frequencies and forgotten exhales that glide across the centre and then retreat again. Many of the textures feel suspended nervously in the air. Electric fence wiring pulled taut until it threatens to snap. Waves of static held miraculously above the point of crashing.

The movement is slow. Sometimes it’s fluid and effortless (hot waste air billowing out of a ventilation shaft), sometimes it’s loaded with pressure and stress (high frequencies dangled like chandeliers from solitary hairs). Garet tilts beautifully between states, and Meta transforms so elegantly that I find my muscles crunching nervously without even thinking about it. Solid blocks of bass frequency evaporate into floating feedback, while aircraft hangar reverberations curdle into clumps of white noise; the flux never ceases, and even as I find myself confronting the sounds that circumvent the centre of attention, they remain transient and unknowable, slipping through my fingers and dripping out the backs of my ears.