Oliver Beer on Painting With Sound and Making Spine-Tingling Music With Paleolithic Caves, Naomi Rea, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [16/2/2023]
The setting for Oliver Beer’s studio, nestled beneath a set of noisy railway arches in South East London, didn’t feel like a natural fit for an artist whose work deals with the music and barely perceptible sounds.
Then again, as he greeted me wearing a boiler suit with a pair of ear defenders around his neck, the location means he’s likely to never to get a noise complaint from the neighbors.
Although the workshop part of Beer’s studio was cluttered with broken instruments and differently shaped objects, the rows of clear plastic boxes, meticulously labeled, felt more in line with the personality of the artist, who seems carefully articulate and attentive.
Beer has a gift for being able to hear the natural resonance of any room or hollow object. He can also tell you, just by listening, what key a sound is in. He channelled this talent into studying composition at university, and had a stint as a member of an indie rock band before making his name as an artist.
As he toured me around the workshop, he introduced some of the objects in the room, picking up an elephant shaped vessel, singing its note into it, and causing it to hum right back at him in harmony.
His eclectic collection of vessels is dear to him, and has formed the basis of many bodies of work; perhaps best known is a project created using 32 objects from the Met’s collection. Beer built a playable orchestra out of the natural resonance of the artifacts. A kaleidoscopic collection of cats in another part of the studio gave away that he is now working on a cousin of the Met project, a “cat orchestra” inspired by a 17th-century da Vinci-style polymath’s unhinged designs for a cat organ.