Local Museum to Bring Immersive Auditory Installation From Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Charley Friedman: Soundtracks for the Present Future (installation view), 2021; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE; Photo: Colin Conces. ©Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.


Gregory Allicar Museum of Art (GAMA) at Colorado State University has announced Charley Friedman’s Soundtracks for the Present Future, a touring installation originating at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, in GAMA’s Spring 2024 exhibition lineup. On view in the Griffin  Foundation Gallery from January 17 to April 7, 2024, the installation will showcase over sixty secondhand guitars, mandolins, and basses that create a singular, suspended instrument. 

Charley Friedman: Soundtracks for the Present Future (installation view), 2021; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE; Photo: Colin Conces. ©Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.


Soundtracks for the Present Future premiered in the summer of 2021 at Bemis Center in Omaha, Nebraska, hosting a program focused on sound art and experimental music. The installation has since traveled to the Everson Museum of Art in 2022 and the Duke Gallery at Azusa Pacific University in  2023. 

As an immersive auditory installation that dissects and affirms visitors’ relationship to music as a  stimulant and as an art form, Soundtracks explores decentralization and diversity through the multiplicity of distinct instruments: each is a unique character within a crowd, individual yet collective. 

Suspended from the ceiling in a cluster, the exhibition’s instruments form a labyrinth of sounds and vibrations that perpetually shift as viewers navigate the work. The instruments “play” various musical works through computer software, ranging from classical European music to new or recent compositions modified for this installation. By exploring the diverse styles, genres, and techniques of the medium, Friedman calls forth the imprint music can make. 

Music has the power to stimulate a spectrum of emotions and memories, which in turn can build human connection and empathy and, at times, locate common ground. Together, the instruments highlight the power and harmony of a collective voice while never overpowering the unique character of the lone guitar. The installation also loops these pre-programmed compositions, creating an ever-changing soundscape with no concrete beginning or end. As viewers move through Soundtracks,  certain notes become prominent based on each instrument’s proximity. This allows for completely individualized and self-directed encounters with the compositions, allowing viewers to affect their experience. No interaction is ever completely repeatable.  

Charley Friedman: Soundtracks for the Present Future (installation view), 2021; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE; Photo: Colin Conces. ©Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.

Soundtracks offers a compelling and immersive experience that dovetails with our institutional desire to present interdisciplinary exhibitions,” says Lynn Boland, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art’s Director and Chief Curator. “The exhibition brings together visual art, music, and computer science in a fun and exciting way. I also think it’s important for museums like ours to look at the tremendous engagement happening in venues engaging in what’s been dubbed ‘Big Fun Art. Soundtracks is a university  museum’s answer to Meow Wolf and other immersive experiences.” 


Charley Friedman is a multimedia artist who works in sculpture, performance, photography, drawing,  and video to “tackle how we internalize and filter the world through magical thinking, institutionalized  religion, and consumer culture…that reinforce our own egocentric world views.” 

Friedman is a Pollock-Krasner grant recipient, a two-time Rema Hort nominee, and a Smack Mellon  “Hot Picks” artist. He has exhibited and performed extensively at galleries and institutions internationally, including MoMA PS1, The Queens Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  OMI International Art Center, The Fabric Workshop, Volta NYC, Pulse Miami, Barbara Mathes Gallery,  Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University, VOLTA NYC, Joslyn Art Museum, Sheldon Museum of American Art, Museum of Nebraska Art, and Nina Johnson Gallery. 

His work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum, The New York Public Library,  Stanford University, the Sheldon Museum of Art, and the Karen and Robert Duncan Collection. Selected publications include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Miami Herald. He received his  Master of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University in  1996, attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1995, and received a BFA from  Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Residencies include Fountainhead, Norton Island Residency, Bemis  Center for Contemporary Arts, MacDowell, and PV Arts.  

Friedman lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he co-founded and co-curates Fiendish Plots. 


Accompanying Soundtracks for the Present Future at Gregory Allicar Museum of Art is an artist talk by  Charley Friedman, introduced by exhibition curator Rachel Adams on February 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will also feature the premiere of several new musical works by contributing composers.  A light reception will follow. Both the exhibition and related programming are free and open to the public.  


Luke Farritor, exhibition engineer 

Jay Carlson, consulting engineer 

Invaluable music insight by Benji Kushner and Harry Dingman 

Charley Friedman: Soundtracks for the Present Future was originated by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and curated by Rachel Adams, Chief Curator and Director of Programs, and organized at Azusa Pacific University. 

This exhibition and related programming are supported by the Fund Endowment at CSU and by a  grant from Colorado Creative Industries. CCI and its activities are made possible through an annual appropriation from the Colorado General Assembly and federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

GREGORY ALLICAR MUSEUM OF ART invites individuals to engage with art and each other to inspire fresh perspectives and wonder. The museum is a catalyst for visual literacy and critical thinking that instills a passion for learning. For updated museum information, go to artmuseum.colostate.edu.

Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

BONUS - Donors get a link in their receipt to sign up for our once-per-week instant text messaging alert. Get your e-copy of North Forty News the moment it is released!

Click to Donate