LINK TO diapason gallery

Seth Cluett

FOR 1, 3, OR 100 PERSON(S)

Participants: Thomas Mullarney, Daniel Neumann, Joe Magee

The mimetic act of recording, of entering traces of the world into the index of cultural and personal memory, can be an act of preemptive resuscitation. I feel as though these traces etch a form of script on the mind: like a procession of rain drops carving away at the roof or a stream impressing itself on a stone, the persistence of recorded objects seems to strive towards permanence, both claiming and eroding space. The series of pieces called ‘objects of memory,’ of which the Tracing Moving Circles pieces are a part, is an effort to unravel the knots that bind memory to the self, to explore ways of erasing, neutralizing, and smoothing out the striations created by documentary media as they write both across and against thought. I am questioning for myself what elements might be held on to – included in the archive of memory – and what might be written by someone else’s hand, indexed without intention and before understanding.

Tracing Moving Circles (Neighborhood Memory) sees the complex of experiences inherent to the act of walking as a form of recorded information that can be translated into an act of viewing. From the dialectic of an irretrievable action (the reader being aware that the work caused the worker to have listened) and an unplayable recording (the destroyed tape both marking the path and itself holding a form of listening), memory becomes suspended in the space of imagination, intangible but made repeatable through the process of assemblage undertaken by the viewer/reader.


Seth Cluett’s “subtle…seductive, immersive” (Artforum) work has been characterized as “rigorously focused and full of detail” (e/i) and “dramatic, powerful, and at one with nature” (The Wire). As an artist, performer, and theorist whose work ranges from photography and drawing to video, sound installation, concert music, and critical writing, his work explores the boundary between the auditory and other senses. Marked by a detailed attention to perception and to the role of sound in the creation of a sense of place and the experience of time, the apparent tranquility of Cluett’s work – at once gentle and un-nerving – is deeply engaged with the rapidly shifting sensory landscape of technological development and urbanization.

Cluett uses minimal materials derived from close listening and observation of the environment to point up the ways in which we personalize our objects and actions. Through creative mis-use of post-consumer goods, adaptive re-use of raw architectural elements, and a nostalgic obsession with dead technologies, these materials become instrumentalized. In this way, many of his pieces investigate the movement, patterns, and social organization of both work and play, while others explore the acoustic signature of specific locations, where sound is exposed as the result or goal of a social activity, a characteristic of architectural space, or a by-product of a geological process.

Cluett’s work has been shown and performed nationally and internationally at programs such as Kill Your Timid Notion at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland; the 10th Rencontres Internationales, Palais de Tokyo Museum‚ and GRM in Paris; Hebbel am Ufer Theater in Berlin; the Osage Art Foundation in Hong Kong; The Kitchen, WPS1/MoMA, Roulette/Location One, and Diapason Gallery in New York; the Institute for Contemporary Art, Studio Soto, and Mobius Artist Space in Boston; the Betty Rymer, Heaven, Artemisia, and Deadtech Galleries in Chicago; and the Deep Listening Space in Kingston, NY. He has created dance and theater works with DD Dorvillier/Human Future Dance Corp, Helene Lesterin/Atlas Dance, and Jen Mesch. His work is documented on Errant Bodies Press, Radical Matters, Sedimental, Crank Satori, BoxMedia, Stasisfield, Winds Measure, and Contour Editions. He has published articles for BYPASS, Shifter, fo(a)rm, Le Quai, The Open Space Magazine, Leonardo Music Journal, 306090, Earshot, the Intransitive Magazine, and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.