Exhibition Press Release

SFMOMA Presents variable Resistance: 10 Hours Of Sound From Australia

Exhibition dates: September 08 - September 17, 2002

Release date: July 9, 2002

From September 8 through 17, 2002, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to present Variable Resistance: 10 Hours of Sound from Australia, a selection of work by contemporary Australian sound artists. Organized by the multitalented Australian musician and curator Philip Samartzis, Variable Resistance surveys trends in current Australian sound art practice. To underscore the extensive nature of artistic explorations in sound, this exhibition is comprised of a ten-day listening room playing pre-recorded material in SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater. An evening of live performances with four of the leading experimental musicians in Australia at present—David Brown, Pimmon, Philip Samartzis and Darrin Verhagen—launches the exhibition at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, 2002.

The listening room component of the exhibition presents 10 one-hour programs, played on a rotating basis, in the Museum's first-floor Wattis Theater. Each program exemplifies a thematic group of compositional investigations, such as Microphonics, Microsonics, Electronics, Rhythm, Spatialisation, Film Scores and Sound Design, Improvisation, and Psycho and Electro Acoustics. A brochure will be available in the listening room to enhance visitors' understanding of the musical arrangements. The essays included in the brochure, written by Samartzis and Csaba Toth (another noted critic of contemporary noise composition), contextualize the listening room presentation by drawing upon historical trends that inform contemporary Australian sound. The content of the brochure will also be available in e.space, SFMOMA's online gallery, Crossfade: Sound Travels on the Web (www.sfmoma.org/espace) in a multilayered iteration of the project embedded with related sound files.

An accompanying CD (comprised of new works by a cross section of the artists presented in the Variable Resistance listening room) will be available for purchase in the SFMOMA MuseumStore. It will be released by the 23Five Inc label in collaboration with SFMOMA for the exhibition.

Variable Resistance is the third in a series of "listening room" presentations at SFMOMA, illustrating the Museum's devotion to the presentation of regionally focused sound work. The first listening room featured selections from the archives of Studio Akustische Kunst (Studio of Acoustic Art), Cologne and was organized by Klaus Schöning, the studio's founder and director. Last year's program, entitled Ju-jikan, included works by Japanese sound artists from the 1950s to the present and was organized by renowned musician and performer Atau Tanaka in collaboration with Ryoji Ikeda and Shunichiro Okada (aka i.d.). Variable Resistance continues the Museum's commitment to the exhibition of sound installations, performances, networked experiments and recorded arrangements as integral components of the media arts program.

Variable Resistance: 10 Hours of Sound from Australia is made possible through the generous support of the James Family Foundation. This project is also assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Media Contacts

  • Libby Garrison, 415/357-4177,
  • Jessica O’Dwyer , 415/357-4174,


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase more of its expanded permanent collection. While the museum is temporarily closed for construction,  through 2016, SFMOMA is “on the go” with an extensive array of off-site programming across the Bay Area, including collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, major outdoor projects and commissioned installations, and new education initiatives.

Visit sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.