Amplifier is a site-specific installation inspired by the landscape and history of the Columbia River Gorge. The installation will occupy the entire two-story volume of the Arlene Schnitzer interior sculpture court at the Portland Art Museum. In this central position, ‘Amplifier’ serves as introduction and summary for an exhibition encompassing 100 years of photography in the Columbia Gorge.
Amplifier is both a space and a mechanism created to concentrate visceral qualities and emotive perceptions. The sculpture court is bisected between the first and second levels, creating two distinct yet interconnected experiences. Utilizing light, pressure, temperature and sound, the installation explores ideas of displaced experience: above and below, light and dark, compression and expansion.
The lower realm is thick with darkness. One enters a field of black and grey interrupted by shards of bright white. The space is filled with a dull rush of wind from a field of fans in the shadows overhead. The space is directionless and destabilizing, a darkness with weight and mass; a force that presses upon your body. Viewed from the adjacent galleries, the upper realm is defined by nearly blinding, source-less light—white hot, with no shadow, only the ambiguous hum of distant transformers, traffic, industry. It is a light that removes all trace, a terrain filled with light and sound yet empty and unable to be occupied. Both spaces explore an absence, a specific sense of isolation and boundlessness.
Together, they evoke the memory and physicality of the Columbia Gorge, and summon the powerful cultural and environmental forces that continue to transform this iconic landscape.