Past Exhibition

Seth Parker Woods and Spencer Topel: Iced Bodies

August 12


12 August 2017

Durational Performance in the East Gallery from 11am – 3pm

The Arts Club is proud to present ICED BODIES: Ice Music for Chicago, both a performance and a sound installation featuring a cello made of ice. Created by artists Seth Parker Woods and Spencer Topel, ICED BODIES is an immersive experience with years of research and fabrication behind its manifestation at The Arts Club.

In 1972, Fluxus artist/printmaker Jim McWilliams devised a piece for cellist Charlotte Moorman called Ice Music for London. It involved bags of frozen ice cubes fashioned in the shape of a cello, which Moorman, nude, “played” with a plexiglass “bow” for multiple hours.

On the 45th anniversary of the original work, Seth Parker Woods and Spencer Topel have developed ICED BODIES: Ice Music for Chicago. Woods, in a wetsuit, will sit atop an installation of platforms and hanging glass in The Arts Club’s East Gallery to “play” an obsidian ice cello sculpture. As it melts, the sound of dripping water and falling ice are electronically processed and magnified via embedded water microphones and bespoke resonators. ICED BODIES is focused on the deterioration, deconstruction and manipulation of time and object in relation to DIY architectural design, space and environment. Inspired by commonly overlooked cases of mental disability in art, especially in the African American community, and the countless cases of police brutality alone in Chicago, this work serves as an ode to struggling minds and bruised, tattered bodies on display. Visitors may come and go as they please from 11am to 3pm as Woods performs this epic work in the first major realization of the ice cello concept in 19 years. This project is funded in Part by DCASE and will travel next to the Museum of Modern Art and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Critiqued as “a cellist of power and grace” (The Guardian), cellist Seth Parker Woods has established a diverse career that straddles the worlds of classical, contemporary, electronics and performance art. He worked with artists ranging from Heinz Holliger, G.F. Haas, and Klaus Lang to Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Aldo Tambellini. He holds a PhD in Performance from the University of Huddersfield (UK).  

The installations of Spencer Topel (Denver, 1979) are immersive experiences, fusing sound, visual, and interactive expression. Trained in music conservatories as a composer and violinist, he produced work for orchestral and chamber ensembles for over twenty years. Following a collaboration with the acclaimed sculptor Soo Sunny Park on a year-long installation presented at the DeCordova in 2011 entitled Capturing Resonance, he has since become a visual artist who has cultivated a distinctive body of work that engages ‘artwork as observer and listener’ where installations gain agency in the interactions between visitors and environments. He is currently a faculty member at Dartmouth College in the Department of Music and the Bregman Studio.

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