Spectra: Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon and Margo Wolowiec

Shotgun Review

Spectra: Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon and Margo Wolowiec

By Anton Stuebner April 12, 2016

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Art Practical staff writer Anton Stuebner reviews Spectra at Et al. etc. in San Francisco, California.


Your ears are immediately punctured by a staccato female voice as you enter Spectra, Et al. etc.’s debut exhibition at Minnesota Street Project. Although unseen, the woman sings a single note with a sharp and repetitive pulse until another voice joins in, producing an ambient vocal soundscape reminiscent of an early Cocteau Twins album. The sound reverberates in a continuous echo, and its source seems all but imperceptible until you notice a tangle of cords underfoot that connect three speakers situated around the gallery’s perimeter, each draped with a silicone-and-fiber blanket marbled with bleached-out stains. The blankets barely cover the speakers and make them only more conspicuous. It is a startling sight, however, and creates a moment of cognitive dissonance in which it becomes difficult to reconcile the ethereal sounds with the decidedly physical apparatus behind them.

Disruption is a recurring theme throughout Spectra, and through predominantly installation-based works, artists Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon and Margo Wolowiec explore how perceptual experiences can be both distorted and amplified through unexpected interventions. Gordon’s mixed-media works Noise Blanket 13 (all 2016), for example, may ostensibly serve as speakers for the ambient vocal sound piece Lucky Charm Hardly Breath (2016), a composition produced by Gordon in conjunction with Amanda MNDR Warner, Tokimonsta, and Peter Wade. But Gordon effectively distorts that physical sensation of listening by creating an immersive environment in which sound seems to come from all directions and is nearly impossible to place in a single locus.

Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon. Noise Blanket 1, 2016; silicone, cotton, nylon, and aluminum; 60 x 50 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Et al. etc, San Francisco.

By extension, her triptych Acoustic Tiles and Wall Treatment 1–3 (all 2016), a series of yellow ceramic and fiberglass panels mounted with protruding amorphous forms shaped like space-age breastplates, further complicates this experience through Gordon’s use of materials designed to absorb and modify excess noise. The strange and beautifully indeterminate shapes in these acoustic panels suddenly become visual analogs for her diffuse auditory environment, an amalgamation of various refractions at play in her work.

Margo Wolowiec’s fiber-based panels, by contrast, offer stunning renderings of abstract monochromatic forms. Composed of hand-woven polyester and linen finished with acrylic paint and dye-sublimation ink, her textiles resemble static on a television screen, an optical effect made even more readily apparent by the subtle grid pattern in mounted works such as Four, Two, Five (2016). Her visual disruptions function as compelling counterpoints to Gordon’s sound-based interventions, shifting us away from representational totality toward a more free-form aesthetic.


Spectra is on view at Et al. etc., in San Francisco, through April 16, 2016.

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