Making Mystery With Sound: Jeff Kolar in Profile

By Kerry Cardoza

“The cop smelled the pork,” a man jokes.

A few dozen people, including the aforementioned police officer, gathers on the sidewalk outside Pilsen’s Antena gallery on a chilly July night, eating barbecue and fruit salad. They came for the opening of “Wind Chimes,” a sound installation by the Chicago-based artist and radio producer Jeff Kolar.

The project, up for most of July, consists mainly of three copper wind chimes attached to custom electronics hung in the trees on the sidewalk outside the gallery. The chimes are wind-powered and, in addition to the sound of the copper resonating, nearby speakers play electronic sounds produced by the artist. A small sound work is also on display inside the gallery proper. This is Kolar’s first outdoor sound installation, but as with much of his other work, you really have to be there.

“I’ve always been interested in unconventional, temporary and ephemeral ways in which artwork can be presented,” he says. Previous projects have involved reprogramming the audio of an ice-cream truck with circuit-bent variations of percussive sounds (“Ice Cream Truck Songs”) and “Car Alarms,” a set of custom-made security alerts available for installation in vehicles.

In the internet age, Kolar’s work is refreshing for its immediacy and intimacy, qualities also inherent in Radius, an experimental radio broadcast he founded in 2011. “I think in particular sound is a medium that I hope can still hold mystery,” he says. “I think in a lot of artwork, or life in general, mystery is being stripped more and more away.”

As Kolar’s work is largely installation-based and/or performative, it lends itself well to a place like Antena. Miguel Cortez, who directs the space, says it’s not exactly a gallery. “It’s more like an experimental space where artists can come in,” he says. “They don’t have to worry about selling. They can just experiment with the space and go nuts with it. If I know their work, then I trust that the show will be good.”

Kolar performed at the gallery a few years back, and Cortez was enough of a fan of his work to invite him back for the summer. A magnet advertising Kolar’s “Car Alarms” project was visible on Cortez’s fridge on the night of the opening.

The ephemeral nature of many of Kolar’s projects relate to other contemporary peers doing similarly short-lived work. David Horvitz, a Brooklyn-based artist who often uses the mail or the internet to execute his projects, is in some ways also rethinking the boundaries of the art community. In one project, if you PayPal the artist one dollar, he will think about you for one minute. He emails you when he starts thinking about you and again when he concludes. For the 2016 Frieze Art Fair, he hired a pickpocket to place small sculptures in the pockets of attendees. The sound artist Miya Masaoka also recalls Kolar’s ephemeral practice—her performances have involved mapping the movements of insects to sound or using medical equipment, like EKG and EEG sensors, to record “internal body sounds” and then use the real-time information in her show.

“Wind Chimes” in particular strikes a certain mood. While Kolar often makes work that references chimes or alerts, what he calls “sounds you get accustomed to,” he says hearing a wind chime really tells you “to sit down and relax.” He also likes that the project is “ultra specific to being the sounds of the summer.”

Situated on the corner of Laflin and 18th street in Pilsen, the pieces are sure to interact with a lot of passersby throughout the month. Kolar was drawn to the passive nature of the installation. He likes the idea that people in the neighborhood might not notice them right away, but Cortez doesn’t think this will be the case.

“I think people will notice them,” Cortez says. “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised to find where that noise is coming from.” One of the chimes emits a low hum. Another broadcasts a din of white noise. Copper in particular is a very resonant metal, but the wind wasn’t strong enough on the night of the opening to produce many chimes.

“I like this idea of an echo,” Kolar says. “And kind of like hearing the wind whistle through the city.”

Jeff Kolar’s “Wind Chimes” shows through July 29 at Antena, 1755 South Laflin.

Jeff Kolar: Wind Chimes

“Wind Chimes” is a multichannel, wind powered sound installation composed for prepared copper wind chimes and custom electronics. “Wind Chimes” will be installed outdoors hanging from tree limbs on the 1700 block of South Laflin Street in Chicago for July 1 – July 29, 2016.

Jeff Kolar: Wind Chimes
Opening Friday July 1 from 6pm-10pm
July 1 – July 29, 2016

Jeff Kolar is a sound artist, radio producer, and curator working in Chicago, USA. His work, described as “speaker-shredding” (Half Letter Press), “wonderfully strange” (John Corbett), and “characteristically curious” (Marc Weidenbaum), includes cross-platform collaboration, low-powered radio, and live performance. His work activates sound in unconventional,temporary, and ephemeral ways using appropriation and remix as a critical practice. His solo and collaborative projects, installations, and public performances often investigate the mundane sonic nuances of everyday electronic devices.

Jeff is a free103point9 Transmission Artist, and the Founder and Artistic Director of Radius, an experimental radio broadcast platform. Since 2011, Radius has commissioned over 50 original radio works by artists from over 20 different countries.

His work has been commissioned by the Propeller Fund, a re-granting agency of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and free103point9, a re-granting agency of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Arts Council. He has delivered lectures at New Adventures in Sound Art (Toronto, Canada), Le Cube Centre de création numérique (Paris, France), Concordia University Topological Media Lab (Montreal, Canada), Parsons Paris School of Art & Design (Paris, France), Wave Farm Study Center (New York, USA), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, USA), and led workshops at Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Ecole d’Enseignement Supérieur d’Art de Bordeaux (Bordeaux, France).

He has performed and exhibited widely across the United States, and at international venues and festivals such as the New Museum (New York, USA), The Kitchen (New York, USA), ORF RadioKulturhaus (Vienna, Austria), CTM Festival for Adventurous Music (Berlin, Germany), University of Illinois Chicago Gallery 400 (Chicago, USA), Columbia College Chicago A+D Gallery (Chicago, USA), Sonic Circuits (Washington DC, USA), Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Urbana, USA), GLI.TC/H (Chicago, USA), Megapolis Audio Festival (New York, USA), and LAK Festival of Nordic Sound Art (København, Denmark).

His work has been broadcasted internationally on radio stations including ORF Kunstradio (Vienna, Austria), Radia Network, WFMU (New Jersey, USA), CKUT (Montreal, Canada), CKUW (Winnipeg, Canada), Radio23 (Portland, USA), Radio Eterogenia (Córdoba, Argentina), Red Radio UDG (Guadalajara, Mexico), Radio Libertaire (Paris, France), Stress FM (Lisbon, Portugal), and WGXC (New York, USA).

In 2013, Time Out New York awarded his work with choreographer Jennifer Monson as the “Best Dance of 2013”. He has also composed music for dance at the Dance Improvisation Festival at Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, USA), American Realness at Abrons Art Center (New York, USA), and Open Studio at the Krannert Art Museum (Champaign-Urbana, USA).

His work has been released on a variety of record labels such as Panospria (Canada), HAK Lo-Fi Record (France), free103point9 (USA), and has appeared in compilations by, iFAR (England), and Sonic Circuits (USA). His video work was published in the DVD journal ASPECT: The Chronicle of New Media Art.

1755 S. Laflin St.
Chicago, IL 60608
antenapilsen (at)


‘paperworks’ brings together the work of five young international artists sharing a common theme of reinterpretation in their practice. At some point each artists has used paper products in untraditional methods to express issues such as memory, politics and public interactions. The eclectic and minimalist installation of works organized by Platform 102 (Brussels) at Antena (Chicago) explores these issues through the mediums of video, photography, instructions and process driven practices.

Artists: Léa Belooussovitch (FR), Marc Buchy (FR), João Freitas (PT), Saori Kuno (JP), Tramaine de Senna (USA).

May 20 – June 17, 2016

Opening Friday May 20, 2016 from 6pm-10pm

More information at:

image: Léa Belooussovitch

Propaganda Familiar: Alberto Aguilar

Propaganda Familiar: Alberto Aguilar
April 8 – May 6, 2016

Opening Friday April 8, 2016 from 6pm-10pm

At Antena, Alberto Aguilar will show a selection of hand painted signs that use language and word play as a bridge of communication to the private and the public viewer. The signs hung in the gallery will be displayed in combination with found, made and arranged objects to contribute to or confound their meaning. Also as part of the exhibition Aguilar will hang some of the signs in shops and and display windows around the Pilsen neighborhood sending messages out to the community.

Bio: Alberto Aguilar wrote this biography but will be speaking in third person. For no specific reason he has omitted the word art from this short paragraph but has made one exception. Alberto is a Chicago based ___ist and teaches at Harold Washington College. He is coordinator of Pedestrian Project a program dedicated to making ___ more accessible and available to all. Currently he is ___ist in residence at the ___ Institute of Chicago. Aguilar’s creative practice often incorporates whatever materials are at hand as well as exchanges with his family, other ___ists, and people he encounters. His work bridges media from painting and sculpture to video, installation, performance, and sound, and has been exhibited at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary ___, the Queens Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of ___.

1755 S. Laflin St.
Chicago, IL 60608