Past Exhibition

Amanda Turner Pohan - Anna Ballarian Visiting Artist

October 19, 2023–November 18, 2023

The Anna Ballarian Visiting Artist Series welcomes Amanda Turner Pohan for an exhibition, artist talk and outdoor sculpture project in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey. 

ARTIST TALK: Thursday, October 19, 5:00 PM
Wm Harris Gallery, Gannett Hall, Third Floor Room 3030, RIT Campus
Free // All Welcome

Amanda Turner Pohan (known as Pohan) is an interdisciplinary artist based in the Catskills, New York. Pohan is working on a sound sculpture in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey for the RIT College of Art and Design campus in 2023. Pohan’s most recent video work, Alexa Echoes, screened at the 36th edition of Images Festival in Toronto, Canada. Pohan received her MFA from Hunter College and her BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. 

Pohan's work explores facets of life and death through industrial and biological forms, mixing ancient literature with contemporary technology to mediate personal and metaphorical experiences.

Amanda Turner Pohan
Amanda Turner Pohan stands next to her solar-powered outdoor installation on the RIT Campus, September 2023.

Outdoor Sculpturebetween Scylla and Charybdis, pole-mounted aluminum enclosure with electronics, solar panels, aluminum QR code signage, audio livestream.

"between Scylla and Charybdis is a solar-powered audio live stream that articulates the quality and composition of the Genesee River’s* water into a female vocal choir. Four pieces of hydrologic data - water temperature, level, salinity, and turbidity - are recorded by four distinct sensors in the Genesee River monitored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Scraped from the USGS website and interpreted by a custom software program, the data is translated into song, fluctuating and shifting in composition as the river itself moves and changes form. The title of the piece is Homeric and derives from a scene in The Odyssey when Odysseus must navigate between the lesser of two disasters by land and sea imaged as Scylla and Charybdis, two mythic female sea monsters. The live stream is hosted on a server housed inside of an aluminum enclosure powered by solar panels and battery. The physical components are attached to a steel pole installed on a concrete pad on the campus of the RIT College of Art and Design in New York state. The live stream is accessed by scanning a QR code sign mounted to an additional pole installed on the concrete pad, directing viewers to a website for listening.

The website is hosted on the solar powered server and is operational during daylight hours only, calibrated to Rochester, NY. Powered by the sun, the functionality of the website and the what, when, and how you hear the choir are dependent on planetary dynamics and subject to local weather systems. The choral compositions are affected both by incoming data from the gauge station as well as current weather conditions. During times of precipitation of any kind, the vocals fall silent. What remains is a sustained note that corresponds to the River’s water level adjusted to the harmonic scale. All aspects of the web design are chosen to conserve energy for the solar powered server and end user.

Some vocalizations in the chorus form words in the ancient Greek ritual known as the ololyga. As described by Anne Carson in The Gender of Sound, “the ololyga is a ritual shout peculiar to females…these words do not signify anything except their own sound. The sound represents a cry of either intense pleasure or intense pain. To utter such cries is a specialized female function…No man would make such sound. No proper civic space would contain it unregulated”.

*the so-called Genesee River is known as Chin-u-shio by the Seneca nation. It is a tributary of so-called Lake Ontario, which is Niigaani-gichigami or Gichi-zaaga’igan in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and Ontarí'io in Huron." - Amanda Turner Pohan