Sights and sounds

Israeli artist Guy Goldstein’s artwork transcends mediums by combing the senses.

December 17, 2016 19:39
‘I MOVED into something more public with... phenomena between visual and sound aspects. Now I’m taki

‘I MOVED into something more public with... phenomena between visual and sound aspects. Now I’m taking all of it and trying to say something that’s really important to me,’ says artist Guy Goldstein.. (photo credit: AMANDA HESTEHAVE)

Guy Goldstein believes art is found in translation. His sound and installation work exists between mediums, creating a new language all its own somewhere at the crossroads of sight and sound. As the winner of the 2016 Keshet Award for Contemporary Art, Goldstein will, together with internationally acclaimed curator Louis Grachos, put together a new exhibition opening first at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in September 2017, then moving in 2018 to the Contemporary Austin Museum in Texas, where Grachos is executive director.

Goldstein sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss turning old family photos into art, collecting sounds in Northern Ireland and translating himself from medium to medium.

Can you talk about your background as an artist?

I graduated in 2001 from Vizo Academy in Haifa. Right after my graduation show, there was a gallery in Tel Aviv called the Heder Gallery that had just opened. They invited me to do a show, and later to collaborate with them. My studio was in their space. They treated me really well. Later, I went [on to get a] MFA from Bezalel [Academy of Art and Design] in 2005.

How did your work develop?

I started by drawing from my own world; my family and digging into my past. My first two solo shows dealt with a pack of negatives that I found in my parents’ closet that were never printed. I printed them and saw myself as a young kid in situations that I knew about, but [in] photos that I never saw before. They were photos that weren’t good enough to print, like I wasn’t looking at the camera or something went wrong with the lighting. I had an interest in those angles. I worked a lot in different mediums: drawing, digital prints, photography.

I made large prints out of them and I started to sew embroidery around them.

Then I moved to installations, and later came the sound. I’m also a musician and I decided that I had to merge those art and music files in my computer. I also wanted to incorporate sound from my family. So I used recordings of my grandmother’s voice at the Eichmann trials. I did several works from that. Then later, I decided I didn’t want to deal with my past or my family anymore in my art. I started to record by myself and do things from scratch.

At what point did you make that transition from past to present?

It was in 2010 when I built the work called “Timetable.” I dismantled a lot of radios and put only the components, plugged in and scattered, on the table. Each one of them broadcast a voice that spoke about everything we could get in a certain place and time. Later, I moved into trying to combine drawings and sound. Then I thought why not transform real sound into drawing or vice versa? I found out that there was a machine that could do it, called [an] ANS synthesizer. I ended up working a lot with it to convert sound to drawing and vice versa. Then, I started investigating the term “colors of sound.” I found out that white noise actually breaks down into five other colors of noise. There is grey, blue, pink, red and violet noise. The white contains all of them. They all sound like a hiss, but it’s interesting. It’s a combination of physics, mathematics, visual art and sound. I’m trying now to get all of this information into something more political and more actual.

What do you mean by something more political?

I went to Northern Ireland a year ago and did a project there. I realized around that time that all of my work was like mathematics.

I decided that I wanted to take my work with the different colored noises and ask people what it means to them. In Northern Ireland, their conflict is similar to ours in Israel. The Catholics are like the Palestinians and the Protestants are like the Israelis, in my opinion. I met a lot of interesting people there, some IRA ex-prisoners.

I stayed in a Catholic village and read a lot about Irish mythology. The people there gave me a phrase, song, poem, or story that I recorded. I sat there in a clergy tower that is now used as a residence for artists and I wrote lyrics and music. When I went back to Tel Aviv, I recorded an album that combined my music with the sounds and voices that I collected there. There will be a video to accompany it. I will show it next month in Ireland and then in Tel Aviv. So that’s an example of how I’m taking the idea of noise into the realm of politics. I think that my show in Herzliya will also be more political.

It sounds like this is a new direction for you and your art?

Yes, there was a period of personal reflection and then I moved into something more public with physics, mathematics and phenomena between visual and sound aspects. Now I’m taking all of it and trying to say something that’s really important to me.

As someone newly introduced to your work, it’s striking that so much of it rests at the intersection between sight and sound. Why does that fascinate you? A lot of artists are really connected to one medium. What’s interesting for me is the transformation between mediums, or things that go wrong when you translate from one to another. It’s not multidisciplinary, it’s interdisciplinary. I’m trying to describe or translate my own work from one medium to another. Now I find myself working with other artists, trying to translate them.

You recently won the Keshet Award for Contemporary Art. Can you talk about that experience?

It was a surprise for me. I didn’t apply. The director of the Herzliya Museum called me and told me that I was one of 10 nominees.

She asked me to propose an idea to Louis Grachos, a curator. I collected some ideas that I had in mind and proposed them. Then I met Louis in my studio. It was interesting because he immediately understood what I was talking about. He’s really into music and understood a collaboration between visual arts and music. We clicked from the first meeting. I was very excited to learn that I had won. It’s a great honor for me to work with this curator, who is very experienced and well known. I’m also really looking forward to working with the museum director.

They also opened up the courtyard of the museum for me to use for my exhibit, which is very exciting.

For more info on Guy visit

Related Content

September 18, 2019
Weizmann Institute invites the public for a night of science wonders