Little Berlin pushes collaboration buttons

When I ran into Martha Savery at the opening of A Closer Look at Arcadia she was very excited about the show at her space, Little Berlin. There’s a collaboration in the Arcadia show (by long-time collaborators Tom Kocot and Marcia Hatton) and Savery had fostered some collaborative pieces at LB–between sound artist Michael McDermott and sculptor Michael Murray and with the members of the video Shift Collective. Shift’s piece involved tossing an expensive video camera off a 6-story roof while the camera was on (it was attached to a rope and didn’t hit the ground). Well, that alone was enough to get me up there.

Sound sculptures at Little Berlin

The audio sculptures by McDermott and Murray are charming mash ups of found objects, motors and iPods that play sounds. One of the four pieces wasn’t working but the other three tinkled and jangled and one, with boots, which was interactive, sounded like a fog horn. The spinning, found-object piece evokes memories of the boardwalk, wind chimes and merry go rounds.  The piece with the boots — which you pull down to activate — visualized putting your feet to the fire (or, here, to what looks like a can of worms).


The sounds playing in Little Berlin’s rough space with high rafters and peeling paint reminded me of David Byrne‘s sound piece, Playing the Building (see post). McDermott and Murray’s work is more humble and experimental than Byrne’s and I enjoyed it immensely.  (I’m hoping it was fun making it — it was fun experiencing the results.)  Murray, by the way, is the sculptor. He’s also the founder of art@sophi.  And here’s about McDermott from the LB press release: “McDermott is a Philadelphia based composer, musician, producer and sound designer. He co-founded the label/collective earSnake and has released music as Mikronesia and with his band, Gemini Wolf.”

Little Berlin co-founder Martha Savery with the collaborative sound sculptures by Michael McDermott and Michael Murray.
Little Berlin co-founder Martha Savery with the collaborative sound sculptures by Michael McDermott and Michael Murray.

Shift Collective members David Romberg and Constantina Zavisanos were there tending the gallery when I visited and told me about the death-defying tumble of the video camera.  It was Romberg’s camera, protected by a little padded box, that was dropped off the roof about 20 times, they said. The resulting kaleidoscopic video hit my vertigo buttons over and over as the camera plunges downward. The falls documented in the video loop and mirrored in a way to enhance the motion of the camera, are mesmerizing.  Their pacing goes from extreme closeup of bricks and mortar to quiet shots of the city taken from the rooftop before each plunge.  I’m sorry my video of their video is not better. You’ll have to get on up there and see it in person. At the opening, the collective projected the video large on a sheet in the building’s courtyard. Scale is everything, and I’m sure the large blowup of this piece would be surreal and a wow.

Constantina Zavisanos and David Romberg
Constantina Zavisanos and David Romberg of the Shift Collective at Little Berlin last weekend.  Zavisanos, who was in 5-into-1 at FLUXspace, has a Fleisher Challenge show coming up.  Romberg was featured last year in a show at Slought.


Shift has a second collaborative piece in the show — a projection in LB’s small gallery that involves several layers of videos beamed at the wall through a fish tank filled with water. Surreality plays a part (or maybe it’s horror movies) as a hand in one video layer reaches up through a drain in a bathtub in another layer…fun and spooky.

Shift, the 7-member collective, has never before created a piece in which the entire collective had a hand (various members have collaborated on other projects however). Other members of the collective include Asher Barkley, Didier Clain, Mariya Dimov, Robert Scobey and Blaine Siegal.

Romberg and Zavisanos were off to talk with FLUXspace about a possible project when their shift of gallery-sitting ended.


This is the Shift Collective collaborative video made from dropping the camera off the roof.

November 7-Dec. 6
sound, sculpture and video
little berlin
an undefined exhibition space
119 West Montgomery
Saturdays 12-5pm
or by appointment
(610) 308 0579