Cosmos, 2015, Mini DV, 20 minutes. 43 seconds
In Cosmos, LeRoy Stevens takes the soundtrack from Carl Sagan’s iconic show (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) and plays it over muted commercials that aired during an episode of the 2014 remake (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey). Separating the cosmic music from its designated source, Stevens reveals how this acousmatic sound gives weight and sensation to an otherwise silent space. Stripping away the commercial’s original sound, Stevens exposes the advertising systems in place, as well as our own ability to fill in what we can’t hear. The very same language used to illustrate the cosmos by Sagan is used to describe a Samsung device and a Carls Jr burger, while Red Bull promises to “gives you wings” and skittles lets you “touch the rainbow.” By contrasting the epic scale instilled by the soundtrack against vapid depictions of a life better lived, Cosmos presents a sum that is better than any of the individual parts.
LeRoy Stevens (born 1984, Park Ridge, IL) lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions include Floating World, Potts, Los Angeles (2018), Books, Chan Gallery, Pomona College, Claremont (2016), Oskar, The Finley, Los Angeles (2015), Tilde, Nathalie Karg, New York (2014), Starting Blocks, Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles (2014) and From the Bird’s Mouth, Linnagalerii, Tallinn (2011). Since 2009, Stevens has published artist's records through his record label Small World. His work has been written about in the NY Times, The Daily Telegraph and he has appeared on NPR, BBC and KCHUNG.