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Photo, sound exhibition creates immersive experience

Housed in List Art Center, Luke Moldof GS exhibition ‘Traditional Terrain’ features mix of garbage, glamour

Photographs of trash, animal carcasses and picturesque views were displayed at the opening reception of  “Traditional Terrain,” a photo and sound exhibition by Luke Moldof GS. Based on the theme of bridges, the show featured sounds of traffic humming, trains rumbling and bridges creaking — as well as slideshows and videos — that supplemented the photos mounted on the walls. 


Initially, the photos in Gallery 221 in List Art Building did not appear to have much in common. Along with litter and dead animals, Moldof photographed a motorcyclist crossing a bridge, rivers, crushed orange cones, cityscapes and much more. But these seemingly unrelated pictures, videos and sounds were all recorded on bridges or presented bridges as their subjects. Many of the captured locations are recognizable, such as the iconic Crook Point Bascule Bridge, which connects Providence and East Providence.


Moldof, a sixth-year student in the PhD program in Computer Music and Multimedia, decided to photograph and record bridges to document both sound and sight. “I knew it would give me the flexibility to do almost anything,” Moldof said. One of his major goals, he explained, was to find a project that would be interesting both visually and aurally.


“I realized I could make recordings of the bridge itself, like the bridge shaking, with contact mics. They pick up vibrations instead of sound traveling through air,” Moldof said. He also used hydrophones, which pick up vibrations underwater. Moldof played these sounds from speakers in List to create  an atmosphere that mimicked the environment in which he had recorded them.


According to Moldof’s description of the exhibit, “The goal is to create immersive and potentially overwhelming audiovisual content commonly experienced, but often ignored,” he wrote on the Music department’s website.


His exhibit highlights the sights and sounds of bridges ­— a category of urban space that is often classified in art according to its architectural beauty or significance, Moldof said. Moldof focuses on the minute as well as the monumental, the garbage as well as the glamour, to create an experience which is familiar, rather than overwhelming. 


“Traditional Terrain” is an exhibition of Moldof’s PhD dissertation project, in which he compiled his photos and recordings into a book and CD respectively. The book, also titled “Traditional Terrain,” includes hundreds of thematically linked photographs taken by Moldof.


Sandra Arnold GS, a graduate student in Public Humanities and a graduate fellow at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, reflected on the theme that Moldof had selected. “After I spoke to the artist and the artist explained the exhibit and explained his purpose behind his work, I understood his choices in selecting the pieces he chose for the exhibit,” Arnold said. She also mentioned her personal connection with certain photographs. “Some of what I saw in there I connected with personally, even though probably his intention was focused on his theme,” she added.

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