HONG KONG.- Galerie Perrotin
is presenting the first solo exhibition of Paul Pfeiffer in Hong Kong.
For his exhibition with Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong, Paul Pfeiffer presents Three Figures In A Room, a multi-channel audio and video installation featuring a newly fabricated soundtrack for the Fight of the Century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, May 2, 2015). This immersive soundtrack fills the main exhibition space of the gallery where it is synced to a video projection of the fight playing in the same room. The fight footage has been visually transformed so that periodically the boxers circling each other in the ring disintegrate, their bodies dissolving into shimmering clouds of color, or merging into each other.
Upon entering the gallery the fight is not visible at first, only the glow of the video projection screen, which fills the room with light. Viewers hear the fight before they see it, and what they hear is the sound of the fight pared down to its most visceral form. Pfeiffer has removed the sportscaster commentary from the original Pay-Per-View broadcast, leaving only the sounds of the physical exertions of the boxers and the reactions of the crowd. Also gone are the scenes before and after the fight the singing of national anthems, the boxers entering the arena, the judges decision, the announcement of the winner. These have all been edited out. What remains is the primal scene of the fight itself 12 rounds of boxing with no beginning or end. All the sounds of hand-to-hand combat the punches, footwork, grunting, breathing, and verbal exchanges between the boxers are sonically magnified and presented in surround-sound, giving listeners the experience of being inside the ring.
Through these transformations of sound and image Pfeiffer spatializes the experience of the fight within the gallery, sonically mapping the ring onto the four corners of the room. Pfeiffer sets the stage for a phenomenological encounter, stimulating the senses to create a heightened state of awareness for viewers navigating the sound and image space of the exhibit. Three Figures In A Room could be thought of as a kind of perceptual laboratory in which viewers are invited to explore the workings of a 21st Century media spectacle up close and undiluted. To this end Pfeiffer not only adopts the frenetic language of todays media-obsessed culture, he uses the gallery space to further intensify it, to condense the media event into an even purer form. He does this in order to investigate it. For having intensified the image Pfeiffer then cuts holes into it to reveal what lies behind it.
The work exists not only in the sounds of the boxers punches, footwork, and heavy breathing, but also in the silences between sounds. To produce this largely non-verbal soundtrack, Pfeiffer used an analog process of foley sound production. Live actors performed all the sounds of the fight using an unlikely array of props including a slab of raw meat and their own bodies as sound-producing instruments. Round by round, the sounds were performed and recorded in a sound studio, then meticulously edited, remixed, and enhanced to produce the finished soundtrack.
In an adjoining room of the gallery, a second video, also synced to the fight, provides glimpses into the foley production process. This video is a detailed portrait of two seasoned foley artists practicing what is becoming an increasingly rare craft in the era of digital film production. Working close to naked in front of the microphone, their performance on the foley stage is every bit as primal as that of the boxers in the ring.
The title Three Figures In A Room references a 1963 triptych by the painter Francis Bacon, whose work in turn references the history of the human figure in Western painting, and in particular all of its various incarnations, distortions, and sensory effects.
A third room in the gallery contains several other new photo and video works. These include a series of small, tabletop video installations, Caryatids (2015), showing moving image sequences of boxers being punched in slow motion HD. In these lush and brutal sequences the image of impact becomes the object of focus. The attacking opponent has been erased leaving the receiver of blows alone in the spotlight, body twisting and crumpling as it is hit again and again by an invisible force.