Akron exhibition ‘Sim[plex]cities’ is the visual equivalent of music

If you’ve ever spent a lot of time in a nightclub or theater that hosts a lot of musical acts, you will quickly understand how music and sound fill the various structures, shapes and voids of the hall in which they are performed.

Some venues work best for different types of music. Sometimes performers refine their music to work better in particular spaces. In this case, the architectural elements of the music hall help to enhance the sound and provide a type of structure in which sound exists.

Chris Hoot’s “Sim”[plex]city: Digital Constructs, Visual Music, Liquid Landscapes ”is a presentation of the artist’s explorations in layering digital photography, graphics and marbling techniques to produce abstract landscapes, cityscapes and soundscapes.

Inspired by the observations of the philosopher and colorist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that “Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music. Hoot’s compositions have a form, form and movement that are limited only by the structural configuration of the paper on which the work was created as well as by the architectonic elements used as part of the visual presentation.

Hoot’s composition at first glance looks like an abstract painting. However, once you investigate you realize that you are looking at structural elements that appear and reappear like visualizing sound waves. Additionally, Hoot’s use of color and his decision to incorporate marbling techniques add layers of complexity and luck that help make the included works more visually appealing.

“Formation of Light” is a piece that features many marbled elements in pinks, reds, blues, yellows and even orange. The marbling ripples and drapes over the surface of the composition and appears to be visually supported by architectural elements in the form of ribs which also move, twist, and ripple across the plain of the image.

These more architectural elements are thick to thin lines that also come in and out of the foreground and background. Either way, this piece and all of the works included retain a formal quality, despite the multitude of techniques and colors used to create the majority of them.

"Visual Constructs light modulator" by Chris Hoot.

In “Visual Constructs Light Modulator”, the artist used three sheets of laser-cut transparent acrylic, equally spaced in a wooden frame placed inside the characteristic small window of the exterior wall of the gallery space. . While there is no marbling included in the work, being able to see across the room helps create something of a similar effect.

In this case, the room, the studios, and the people in the space across the window help create color as well as the same kind of visual randomness that the marbling does in Hoot’s other works.

“Daydreaming” is a vertically printed composition (15 inches wide by 31 inches high). It was created in grayscale which gets somewhat disorienting as you look around the room. It is difficult to say where the marbled elements and the more architectonic parts begin and end.

This aspect of the work is also reinforced by the more graphic or structural elements having a distorted grayscale surface of their own. This room looks more like strata of the earth or layers of clouds in a storm front, both full of potential energy.

Another notable work is “Theater of Conflict”, which is a long, horizontal play about 4 feet long by 1 foot high. Here, the artist uses what is almost a rainbow of colors throughout the composition.

"Theater of conflict" by Chris Hoot.

It’s hard to tell where the marble elements and architectural pieces begin and end, which helps create a level of visual tension. Additionally, we seem to be looking down or up through a tree of structural elements that help hold the composition more visually together.

These compositions are dynamic investigations into color, form, rhythm and texture. They bounce and vibrate like the music that inspired them.

Presented on the third floor of the Summit Artspace in the Three G gallery, the exhibition features 25 works. It’s frankly too many pieces for space and it’s the only part of the exhibit that detracts from what is a great art research exhibit well worth the trip to downtown Akron.


Exposure: Chris Hoot’s “Sim”[plex]cities: Digital Constructs, Visual Music, Liquid Landscapes ”until September 25

Or: Galerie Three G, Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St., Akron

More information: www.summitartspace.org or 330-376-8480.