Modern Hieroglyphs


Coming from a background in the entertainment industry, Erick Montgomery has worked directly with such illustrious names in film as Stanley Kubrick. As a sound designer and percussionist for major films, Montgomery brings a unique perspective and set of tools to art-making.

            Montgomery is currently showing his new body of work, Modern Hieroglyphs, or at least part of it, at AS220. Read simultaneously as photographs and computer generated imagery, this work is dense – not in composition or content, but in the sense that it's clear they are more than they seem. The works seem to nod to a larger narrative. And sure enough, that's what they do.        

            Each of image is a film still from the larger, CG motion-picture project titled Modern Hieroglyphs. Premiering at AS220 on

          January 23rd, the film will reveal the narrative these prints allude to. Heavily visual, Modern Hieroglyphs contains no spoken dialogue, using in its place the technique of early 20th century silent films – inserting textual cuts between scenes. This lends the film a striking bit of contrast between early film-making reference and starkly modern computer graphics.

            Despite its elimination of heard dialogue, sonic experience is still important here – so much so that Montgomery has made the sound alone available through his website. Now, think about the variety experience available; you can view the vibrant stills hanging at AS220 or you can listen to the auditory “score” online, both separate from the film. This brings me to what is an important part of this project: the tension between the integration and separation of each of its parts.

            Within the film, the story, visuals, and sound are intrinsically integrated – the score blends with the sound design, sonic melody blends with saturated color harmony. But Montgomery goes out of his way to provide multiple modes of experience. After all, hieroglyphs are not just pictograms, they are stories and histories, and likewise they are not just narratives but a complex arrangement of iconic imagery. The highly considered stills hanging in AS220 are not just stills, or even movie posters. Painstakingly mounted on aluminum, each image is just as alive as the film itself. In fact, Montgomery is currently at work producing a shorter cut of the film designed to be screened on a full-dome screen, similar to that of a planetarium.

            And why is this important? Modern Hieroglyphs exists in a spectrum of experience; this is a concept that is integral to contemporary society. With a visual aesthetic close to that of Reboot, an early television adoption of CG animation, Modern Hieroglyphs refers to the “golden age” of virtual reality, so to speak. You can picture yourself there more so than you could a live-action film set in real-world 2013 – just fire up that laptop and you're there. There's a sort of 21st century, digital empathy. But also, with such various modes to experience its characters, sets and settings, Modern Hieroglyphs is as plural as most of our digitally multiplied lives.

Modern Hieroglyphs on Blu-Ray disc can be pre-ordered online at along with download links to audio from the film.

Modern Hieroglyphs

Erick Montgomery

AS220 Main Gallery

January 5 – 26, 2013

Film Screening: Wed, Jan 23, 5:30pm, AS220