The bright work. JEZ RILEY FRENCH
(Engraved Glass 2009 / 2012)

‘The bright work’, originally published on 2009 and reissued on February of 2012, was largely made with hydrophones, very likely the ones Jez Riley French builds himself.

Hydrophones offer a very particular experience as what we hear is sound propagated through water, though a fluid. Fluids and sound waves have similar behaviors under certain circumstances, but what is interesting here is that the hydrophone hearing experience would suppose an immersive experience, but instead ‘The bright work’ seems to be more about textures, scales and friction. It’s like if water became a large membrane we use to listen to the surface of the solid container of this water. A tactile and visual surface with detailed features and beautiful narratives.

Water and fluids in general acquire the shape of their container, they also tend to propagate and its behavior changes based on the molecular interaction with its container. On a more cultural approach water serves as mirror, the origin of the image. Anyway on ‘The bright work’ I’d say water is more of a metaphor to the space between ourselves and the things, to the distance we need to establish to have an image of things.

Water here works like some sort of a membrane, a magnifying glass, a medium to relate to the micro, to a reductionist approach through the possibility of listening to sounds otherwise inaccessible for human listening.

What is quite poetic here is what does Jez Riley French finds on this sounds that makes him want to play them to us. How his mediation as artist and sound capturer imprints his experience in these sounds: how his mediation imprints his emotions, thoughts, reflections and questions in the sounds we listen here.

‘The bright work’ is a work that serves to understand all the depth and transcendence behind the premise that in sound art, sound is both the medium and subject. There is an immanent sort of “extraordinary” and revealing element in the hearing experience, in the reduction of the hearing that puts the listener in contact with something that he can’t necessarily comprehend but that he feels and experiences. This is no longer a metaphorical, figurative and descriptive process: this is sort of a metaphysical exercise: a way to sensibly address questions about ourselves and about the world.

Again, ‘The bright work’ is a very successful work as it provides a universal sense to the act of Jez Riley French recording in the water of some specific sites with hydrophones. The sense found here is the sense of relating to the world and relate to ourselves in a way different to the question / answer approach. More like if we subtract ourselves rationally in order to feel the cosmos we are part of and have an actual meaningful transcendental experience.

-John McEnroe

Jez Riley French website
Engraved Glass website