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John Folsom Opens in Calgary with "Diminishing Returns"


John Folsom’s Diminishing Returns at Newzones Gallery in Calgary, Canada

October 25 – November 22, 2014 / Artist Reception: October 25, 1 – 4 p.m.

Amidst a series of his two-dimensional works blurring the line between photography and painting, John Folsom’s sound installation Diminishing Returns highlights the problems associated with climate change at higher altitudes, in particular how it affects bird’s migratory zones. This sound installation will be on exhibit at Newzones in Calgary, Canada from October 25 through November 22 with an Artist Reception held on October 25 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Diminishing Returns

Diminishing Returns consists of cast Alpine horns, turntables and lathe cut vinyl records.  The sounds of avalanches and bird songs play continuously.  As the turntable stylus auto repeats, the ongoing cycle of play effectively erodes the vinyl, diminishing the sound quality. Over time, repeated plays will slowly eliminate the birdcalls resulting in a final wall of white noise. This sound piece aims to call attention to the ominous signals from wildlife in the hope that mitigating the effects of climate change will produce a brighter future.

Conceived during an artist residency at the Banff Centre in May, Diminishing Returns will include 9 large format mixed media pieces and 5 works on paper, offering a novel approach to the topic of climate change.

“During a hike in the Canadian Rockies, I heard an avalanche in the distance,” said Folsom. “This propelled me into an investigation of how climate change can affect higher altitudes, and there is, in fact, a correlation between ice melt and the increased frequency of avalanches. But what I was not prepared for was a report by the Audubon Society that presented evidence of birds’ shrinking migratory ranges.” Folsom learned there are currently 314 species of birds under threat as the effect of greenhouse gases cause migratory zones to shift and shrink.

Audio Clip

With its chalet architecture and rigorous mountain climbing, the Canadian Rockies vibrantly reflect the culture of Alpinism. Diminishing Returns borrows from Swiss culture by interpreting the notion of the Alpine horn in fiberglass.These horns are outfitted with speakers and connected to standard BSR turntables. Utilizing the songs of birds on the Audubon endangered list, sound effects are lathe cut by hand on vinyl records producing an ambient natural environment. This sound piece seeks to create an atmosphere that reflects potentially obsolete phenomena from the natural environment and from popular culture. Through the use of vinyl storage medium and diminishing sound, the installation aims to engage the viewer while raising environmental consciousness.

About John Folsom

John Folsom (b.1967) is a mixed media artist born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University. His practice demonstrates the narrative potential of images through the intersection of painting and photography. 

Folsom’s photographic paintings have been widely exhibited for the past 15 years and can be found in many collections worldwide.