PHILIP FRYER AND SANDRINE SCHAEFER
Meditating on the Museum’s role as an archive and on the act of witnessing, we traveled on two paths, collecting the sounds present in varied spaces throughout the Museum of Fine Arts. After two and a half hours of collecting, we met in the Rotunda on the first floor of the museum. Responding to multiple studies that have found the average viewing time of a painting in museums is a mere seventeen seconds, we each engaged in a two and half hour act of viewing a single artwork.
Sandrine observed John Singer Sargent’s “Sketch for Perseus on Pegasus Slaying Medusa” and I observed the mural on the ceiling of the rotunda by looking into a mirror provided to view the painting. As we stood looking, the archive of sound collected earlier in the day played from our bodies, an invitation for the audience to view the performance at an intimate proximity. Throughout the piece, Sandrine took steps backwards until she and I were back to back. Our micro-movements and touch controlled the volume at which the sound hidden on our bodies was heard. This piece addresses a dialogue around contemporary ideas in relation to witnessing experiential art.