Both works in London-based artist Ryan Gander's New York debut make productive use of a disconnect between sound and image. In The First Grand National, 2003, a small monitor facing the wall illuminates an empty, black-carpeted room. A color-bar test pattern on the screen casts a gently moving rainbow on the wall as an elderly Englishwoman holds forth on various methods of high-speed typing, perfume, and, predominantly, the BBC Radio 4 programming--plays, the news, the shipping forecast, Women's Hour--that is her daily companion. A quaver in her voice, buttressed by our understanding that her preferred links to the outside world are showing their age as much as she is, gives the oration an elegiac tone. (Likewise the Grand National, England's premier horse race, is one of only ten sporting events guaranteed live broadcast on network television, itself a dying technology now mostly replaced by satellite transmission.)
Gander, whose heterogeneous practice includes sound works, videos, posters, text pieces, photographs, and site-specific installations, and whose methodology sometimes seems more like that of an art director than an artist, doesn't often use his formidable talents to provoke an emotional response. But by pairing The First Grand National's narration with an unconnected abstract image--as opposed to, say, a scene of a little old lady in her rundown flat--Gander encourages us to pay greater attention to her words and, by extension, to empathize with her plight.
Previously, Gander has created works that thematize their own production or the manner in which they are exhibited. In one example, Brown Corduroy Lounge, 2001, he presented a sequence of photographs inspired by a Serge Gainsbourg album cover, each taken with a different format camera (35 mm, 6 X 6 cm, and 6 X 7 cm), to show the varying amounts of visual information captured by each. …