Considering Rock's uneasy relationship with visual art down the years; it's to the benefit of this show that the music used as the spur to the various exhibits- guitar noise by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore - is about as far from mainstream rock as it gets.
Packaged in vacuum- cleaner bags, these pieces were sent out as cassettes to a variety of artists and musicialns, whose responses comprise the exhibition and its accompanying CD. At their most basic, some of the pieces simply illustrate the difficulty many visual artists experience dealing with a form as amorphous and intangible as music. Perhaps each of those who just sent back the vacuum- cleaner bag, painted over or otherwise treated, thought their item a tartly miminalist comment on the proceedings; but together, they speak more loudly of artistic impotence. Only the more inspired - Bruce Gilbert's Untitled featuring a DAT tape cocooned in the bags padding like a gift from Joseph Bueys; and Tim Head's Deep Froxen/Defrosted, in which the package was frozen until its return - have the resonance beyond the purely rhetorical.
Those exhibits which make scatalogical musical jokes - Keith Ball's chamber-pot of plaster ears; Alexie Politov & Lilya Orlova's out-sized model of the cassette as toilet paper dispenser - are wounded by their punch-line status. The music's shit - so what? More impressive is Martin Fletcher's Sound Master, an oddly troubling sculpture of personal-stereo headphones rendered in gigantic Claes Oldenburg scale. There's an indefinable magic too, to Phil Holmes's Parellel Dustbin, a galvanized dustbin with a pool of mercury in the bottom, set atop an amplifier so that the sounds send patterns rippling through the mercury.
Meanwhile, David Bowie attempts to fulfil the exercise with measured equation of wit and style, with an image of joke chattering dentures topped with deeley-bopper eyes. Echoing Jasper Johns's The Critic Smiles and Richard Hamilton's The Critic Laughs, it's called d&b, and if it's intended as a self-portrait, it carries seriousness and ironic self-deprecation in an equalibrial balance that few others here can equal.