Robert Miller Gallery is pleased to announce its first exhibition of the work of Paul Miller. In 2008 Miller went to Antarctica to shoot a film about the sound of ice, and ended up creating an installation out of the journey. For Robert Miller Gallery, Paul Miller recasts the epic detritus of the art and other cultural worlds as skillfully handled archival video samplings, digital prints, and drawings, calling into question the value of appropriation and the status of the copy. Finding inspiration in historic documents and films like James F. Cook’s infamous 1912 film “The Truth about the Pole” (a false narrative made by the “explorer” using the North Pole as a film studio, Cook tried to portray himself in a documentary he self-financed as the true discoverer of the North Pole), and rare images of Admiral Byrd’s 1939 voyage to the South Pole, Miller explores the range of “truth” in modern portrayals of the explorer’s path. In 2007-2008 Miller spent four weeks in Antarctica re-tracing several explorers’ journeys and with his “North/South” show at Robert Miller gallery, he reconstructs a collage of their journals and ephemera in multiple contexts. Using materials as diverse as John Cage’s 1938 “Imaginary Landscape #1” as an inspiration (it was the first composition written for turntables) Miller looks at how documents and archival materials influence perception of history and the search for the explorer’s goal of defining new frontiers. In “North/South” he deftly recontextualizes the rhetorical tropes of music notation and graphic design to mine the intersection of public and personal.
A deejay and writer, Miller maps his ongoing relationship with the past, present, and future of music, using record collections, musical taxonomies, and play-lists as impetus for portraits and cultural critiques to blur the lines between how composers create and artists design work based on a seamless dialog between “sampling” and originality. This exhibition of new work will incorporate digital prints, works on paper, and a video installation to define a sonic landscape/timeline that begins around the turn of the first millennium and projects centuries ahead into the future for concepts such as “A Manifesto for a People’s Republic of Antarctica.” Drawing on a history of music’s ups and downs in terms of mountains and valleys, water and above all, ice, Miller expands on the tradition of landscape portraiture, creating a topography of music spanning across every wall of the gallery. North/South is comprised of four sections: 1) Notations – a contemporary response to John Cage, 2) Appropriation of O, a collaboration with artist Ann Hamilton, 3) Rodchenko, Revisited – an exploration of Miller’s graphic design of prints for a fictional revolution in Antarctica, and 4) North/South – a video installation juxtaposing Admiral Byrd and James F. Cook’s respective voyages to the South and North Poles, with historical documents of other famous and infamous voyages to Antarctica and the Arctic. Miller translates the possibilities of music’s futures into graphic terms of an almost science-fictional account in images of a revolution in Antarctica. His backward and forward glance, though, embraces its own subjective account, bringing Miller’s own thoughts on history (and its representation) to the forefront. His “People’s Republic of Antarctica” does not attempt to be a definitive narrative on music’s relationship to revolution, but instead one that exists at the interface of his personal vision and that of a shared popular culture.
Miller’s video installation is an acoustic portrait of Antarctica’s relationship to the “Great Game” of national interests in claiming the wilderness of the South Pole. Miller’s composed score for the video materials is based on gamelan shadow theater, and electronic music’s ability to re-define geography’s relationship to “authenticity” – natural sounds versus their reconstruction in digital media are motifs for the composition that accompanies the installation. While using sound within installations has a tradition in contemporary art, Miller conflates its use within a fine-art context with other ways in which music reaches the public. Miller postulates that you are your own archive. His composition “Terra Nova” was written while he was in Antarctica for 4 weeks, and it offers an extended trip through Miller’s sound art palette.
Paul Miller was born in 1970 in New York. In 2004, his exhibition Rebirth of a Nation, a remix of D.W. Griffith’s infamous “Birth of a Nation” was installed as “Path is Prologue” where it premiered at the Paula Cooper Gallery, and then traveled as a live multi-media opera to over fifty widely acclaimed venues, such as the Herod Atticus Theater at the base of the Acropolis and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. His works have been performed at locations as diverse as the Tate Modern and The Guggenheim and he has had numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including solo shows at the Annina Nosei Gallery and he has also curated group exhibits at Jeffrey Deitch gallery. In addition, Miller has been included in the 1997 and 2002 Whitney Biennial, the 2004 Venice Biennial of Architecture, and 2007 Venice Biennial’s “Africa Pavilion.” In 2004 he published a critically acclaimed and award winning book “Rhythm Science” about the relationship of graphic design and contemporary music, and in 2008, he edited an anthology of writings on sound art, digital media, and contemporary composition entitled “Sound Unbound” (both, MIT Press), featuring Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Brian Eno, Moby, Chuck D, Saul Williams, Jonathan Lethem, Daphne Keller (Senior Legal Counsel to Google) and many others. In addition to his art works, he tours the world constantly as Dj Spooky – a very “in-demand” world famous dj. He currently lives and works in New York.
Terra Nova, the composition based on Miller’s journey to Antarctica will be premiering in NY as a headlining event of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival 2009, and will tour opera houses for the next several years.