Saturday, March 31, 2007

big metal cloud of train sound...


a home made early radio sound effect disc made by buddy kling. note the hand written label: "sound effect riding on train". you can hear a whistle at times but the rest sounds a lot like a hugely distorted dust storm coming from a giant cloud made of metal.

speaking of large colored clouds, i'm taking the train down to san diego today to see a morris louis show. the paintings should be a lot quieter than this.

the train here is a cluster of droning majestic confrontational transcendence, like henry flynt in a metallic dream house.

with trains, i can't help but think of the films of ozu, and this sounds like one of his early films that hasn't been restored.

take a listen and have a pleasant journey.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 30, 2007

sheet music wall paper


one of the stranger things about buying old photo postcards is that the writing on the backs is almost always uninteresting. i'm consistantly disappointed to discover that an incredibly strange image on the front usually co-exists with a seemingly disconnected and extremely dull greeting on the back.

this is one of my favorite recent RPPC finds. i remember an early art history class where we had a many houred discussion about a steiglitz photo of people on a ship, where every part of the the photo was discussed for symbolic content towards a greater narrative. well, this is certainly no steiglitz, but there's a lot of visual happenings here to mull over if you are so inclined...

what interested me most though, was the fact that for once the text on the back suggests a similar variety of paths to wander down as the image on the front. i have no idea which one of these folks did the writing; but this little gem of a text seems to be in secret code, or perhaps a quotation of a few lines from one of frank o'hara's early poems...

"i know what you're doing now. that's what they all do johnny my boy. look and listen but mum the word. take me back to swanee shore - sweetheart's still."

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 29, 2007

some birds...



from american bird songs, a set of 6 beautiful red vinyl 78's in a faux wood patterned album. recordings made by the albert r. brand bird song foundation, cornell university. the A-B-S is one of my favorite typefaces... click to listen

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

two curves...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

test... test... check... check...


one of several beautiful tables consisting of lists of words and phrases in the chapter called acoustic field tests from the 1941 third edition of watson's "acoustics of buildings". this table, simply called intelligibility list, features 50 short sentences that should be used to test the public address systems of auditoriums. next time you pick up a microphone, instead of simply repeating the word "check" or "test" over and over again; you might want to use something from the list. i believe the thinking here is to listen to the articulation of various words to determine how well different sounds translate across different areas of the space.

there's a lot of poetry to be found in the list, below are some of my favorites. i also like to imagine the various answers these questions migh generate...

3. why are flagpoles surmounted by lightning rods?
5. name the tree on which bananas grow.
6. how often does the century plant bloom?
7. what description can you give of the bottom of the ocean?
8. explain the difference between a hill and a mountain.
10. describe the shoes of the native hollander.
11. name some uses to which electricity is put.
12. what would cause the air to escape a bicycle tire?
16. name a state which has no seacoast.
17. write the roman numeral ten.
19. explain why a corked bottle floats.
23. at what time to ocean waves become dangerous?
28. explain why a giraffe eats the foliage of trees.
30. explain why the name string-bean is appropriate.
34. why are wire springs used in beds?
42. how does turning a ship's wheel steer the ship?
44. what are some personal characteristics of the people of japan?
45. what candy is black and good for colds?
48. why are most lighthouses situated on rocks?
49. give some ingredients used in soap.

you can also click on the image to see it large if you want to read the whole thing.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 26, 2007

for jet age travellers...





some really nice cut and paste graphics on two tiny brochures for united airline's "instamatic: instant reservations system", probably 1960 or so. at the time this early use of computers in the commercial sector was considered "the world's largest integrated data processing system developed for private industry". it also claimed to have a 1.5 second response to every inquiry... something the airlines have certainly moved away from.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 25, 2007

dana and the decline of attention...


some nice bits from a 1955 article called "living with music" dana andrews.

"my romance with music has brought me untold hours of sheer pleasure and moments of towering exaltation. but, as in all serious love affairs, there have been trying situations as well. i can point to the hostility of certain neighbors who stubbornly have never reconciled themselves to experiencing bartok at 3 am, a prejudice which seldom fails to astonish me...

...i'm a man who takes his music seriously. i can't combine conversation and listening. of course, i've been as afflicted as the next man with guests who ask to hear a work and then take the passage of the first few bars as a signal for social chatter... i suppose my reaction to this sort of inattention is a form of impotent rage against a doleful development which cilfton fadiman called the decline of attention. our modern technology has deluged us with such a relentless torrent of entertainments and diversions clammoring for our attention that our appetites and ability to respond are dulled. we have too much to assimilate, too much to keep up with... of the most lamentable aspects of the decline of attention has been the increasing relegation of music to the position of a sort of underscore to daily activity. record companies are selling albums of music to dream to, music to love to, music to read to, music to pluck chickens to, and apparently music for every conceivable purpose except listening...

i might add that the development of the recording industry has paradoxically created the greatest opportunity for musical insularity that has ever existed... i suppose if this specialization continues we'll eventually find people whose entire record collection will consist of many different renditions of a single work..."

andrews' goes on to talk about his obsession with hi-fi gear, his taste for stravinsky, and his disdain for mozart. it seems the star of laura and best years of our lives was pretty darn cool. i have never heard the word underscore actually used as a noun to describe a music that acts as a kind of film score to daily activities... a quite beautiful thing indeed...

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 24, 2007

one man drum and bugle corps...


Labels: ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

lines and lines...



about fifteen years ago i pasted the bottom image of a philip guston drawing into my image archive... yesterday, i pasted in the top photo from a recent architecture magazine, of the restoration of an old building...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 22, 2007

standard stoppages...



marcel duchamp's three standard stoppages is one of my favorite works. it hits you on two levels; the things are simply beautiful, and they are fodder for a ton of mental wandering. when i discovered this drawing from 1911 by francis coy, i couldn't help but think she got there first... no curves and no irony, but a darned beautiful little drawing of lines reflecting on the potential of lengths and ripe for mental wandering.

while looking for an image of duchamp's stoppages, i found an interesting article on the lie of duchamp's method in producing the stoppages. supposedly created by dropping thread a meter long from a meter's height onto a canvas; scientific method has proven duchamp's resulting forms impossible, and some detective work on the originals prove the images were built very simply. on one hand this kind of research is interesting; on the other hand, for me, it doesn't really matter, because it doesn't change my experience or relationship to the objects themselves.

for duchamp the piece was a seminal work, and not because he pulled the wool over people's eyes about its making..."for me it opened the way -the way to escape from those traditional methods of expression long associated with art. I didn't realize at the time what I had stumbled on. When you tap something, you don't always recognize the sound. That's apt to come later. For me the Three Standard Stoppages was a first gesture liberating me from the past."

in my opinion, the move wasn't only about traditional methods of expression; but also traditional methods of thinking (specifically about measurement and measuring). in this work, meaning isn't found so much in the actual method of production as it is in the idea of that production - and in the fact that the finished work is still poetic enough to evoke some very profound dialogue. there is a gargantuan world of trajectories one can take from these objects as starting points regardless of their truth.

it's the same with francis coy's drawing. i am free to travel down as many roads as my experience with this object will take me, regardless of her own intentions (probably a math exercise). its quiet poetry allows me to make it my own (not because it now lives here, but emotionally and intellectually)... and i don't really care how she made it...

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the sky beneath the earth reflected in grass...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

the center of all things (when maps become flowers)...


this image was found in a 1947 radio news magazine i was cutting into tiny pieces for some work. it is one of my favorite maps i've seen, and the tiny b&w photo almost slipped by me unnoticed.

the caption reads: three dimensions on paper: ohio state university has solved the problem of designing non-confusing models of antenna field patterns by using a series of 2-dimensional cardboard figures. each represents the vertical field pattern in a given direction...

i love the idea of a map as an object, or a small model; and the notion of the "stem" at the center is the location with all things radiating outwards from it. the map is the center of the mapmaker's universe and location, making it also time specific if the center is not fixed in space (an antenna yes, a human no). i love the idea that you could have multiple objects/maps of the various paths through days, lives, jobs, life, etc...of course, they also remind me of some of contant's models for new babylon...


Monday, March 19, 2007

a notebook on the subject of astronomy...

a chart of mars laid down on the stereographic projection.


phases of the moon

an eclipse of the moon

the seasons

a few hand drawn notes, diagrams, and maps from a kid's notebook dated 1910. the cover states: these notes are taken from taken from young folk's astronomy. i hope little rudolph pelunis got a good grade on his book report, because these drawings are pretty darn wonderful...

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

record store...



i can't even begin to imagine what it must've been like to walk into a store like this at a time when music was only available as a live experience with living humans howling and banging away on drums, strings, and horns...

one day, the word phonograph is taped to the door of a shop and your relationship to music has changed forever. you can hear, and possibly purchase, a piece of music whenever you want. you can listen to a song over and over again; and suddenly, you don't have to remember - the activity of listening is changed, and the mystical presence of recorded sound becomes part of this world.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

area for best listening...


arealisteningtemple wonder this is my favorite temple in japan.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 16, 2007

mora pahara



in 2000, while i was trying to find a way to move my paintings into new territory i happend upon this old train brochure published by the indian state railways. the cover, of course, was enough to make me need to own it, as the painting on the front is completely amazing; but the inside didn't seem all that interesting until i discovered the map on the last page.

this image made up of the lines that connect all of the sites on the route map, reminded me of some of buckminster fuller's structures. i began to think about maps not just as drawings but also as objects in space; and in terms of image building, the lines suggested a potential of other forms by simply connecting the dots in different ways - essentially creating new images through new routes to the same destinations.

this idea of building new images by connecting the same points in space differently, became the beginnings of an incredibly rich step forward. i did a series of 10 paintings based on the map and then the brochure got lost in the disaster that is my studio. a last week i was looking for something else and i happened upon it again... a few days later and i'm working on a sculpture, finally using those ideas suggested by fuller, creating not just an image, but an object in space...

i am constantly amazed at the richness one can find in such seemingly inconsequential objects...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

some silences...

she was indeed like the fairy of silence, and only now did i realize that even yesterday... in all that music and the milling crowd, etelka had walked in on an island of silence, had floated in the purified atmosphere of silence, as if a few steps from her everything had gone quiet, and her big velvety eyes had muffled the noise of the soul as velvet curtains muffle sound.
mihaly babits, "the nightmare"

for part of the night cornelius stayed there, holding the bars on his window and listening, his five senses concentrated into one - or rather two since he was watching as he listened.
alexandre dumas, "the black tulip"

whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.
wittgenstein, "tractus"

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

i put a spell on you...


RPPC of a guy dressed up like an indian, doing some hocus pocus on a monkey, standing on a drum... i once recorded a 78 with a tune called "monkey in a dog cart"( or perhaps it was "dog in a monkey cart") at 33rpm instead of 78 and didn't realize it. i have to admit i kind of enjoyed it at the wrong speed better. since there's a monkey in the song title and the photo, it seems they need to live together... as if the guy dressed up as an indian is chasing the monkey around the drum in a very relaxed and gentle way... like they're waltzing a bit, and maybe drinking some lemonade together with two straws...listen.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

little coloured squares...



found a little surprise on the label of this madison 78. someone glued little coloured paper squares on each side. i've found name stickers or stickers with numbers on them, and assume in general these kinds of things are either ownership claims or index related, particularly as a lot of people stored these things in record albums that had room for a list inside the front cover. with this madison record, it's a bit more confusing as to who glued these on or why... perhaps a 7 year old with a taste for the pastel geometry of alexander girard...

there's 5 squares on jeff calhoun's side and 4 on vel veteran's side. vel's side has 4 different colours, and jeff's has only two. the title casey jones has two words, and that side has only two colours, but wreck of the old 97 has 5 words and only 4 colours... unless someone thought "old 97" could be one word... vel veteren does have 4 vowels in his name, so 4 squares make sense if they are a code of some sort... but jeff calhoun also has four vowels in his name and his side has 5 squares. maybe they were ratings, as casey jones is definitely at least one square better than old 97 (it's probably 40 squares better, so maybe each color represents a different number...).

well, now that you can see the labels, it would probably be nice if i also posted the music. i don't know either artist, but everyone from vernon dalhart to johnny cash has recorded old 97 (this might be one of the worst versions i've heard). casey jones is not the song i thought it was going to be, but it seems there are a ton of different casey jones songs out there... this one is kind of ok...

listen to casey jones and wreck of the old 97.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, March 12, 2007

a full scale antenna test mockup...


"a full scale antenna test mockup of a project mercury manned space capsule is being examined here by collins radio co. officials..." electronics world 1959.

this beautifully humble glass structure, part tipi and part alexander graham bell kite viewing station, is quite a gem...

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 11, 2007

there's rare and then there's rare...


amidst a scrapbook of mildly interesting cuttings and glueings from a guy who played syncopated jazz and dinner music in LA during the mid 1920's i found this photograph of a guy playing a theremin...

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 10, 2007

curtain call...

Friday, March 09, 2007

if pictures could sing...


...i would be happier because i'd know what musical stalactites might actually sounds like...

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 08, 2007

soap bubbles...







images from soap bubbles by c.v.boys, 1911...

in 1997, i made a small film called "astronomy" - filming a series of 1950's kid's astronomy experiments with a super 8 camera i had received for my 13th birthday. when i spotted this book at a used bookstore around the same time; my plan was to use it as a script for another film. unfortunately, i never got around to filming it; but the idea of both films (the one made and the one imagined) seem to go against c.v. boys' introductory text to this book:

"an experiment is not a conjuring trick, something simply to make you wonder, nor is it simply shown because it is beautiful... their chief object is to enable you to see for yourselves what the true answers are to the questions that i shall ask."

boys' answers, of course, carry weight and interest; but i have always found a different kind of truth in the experience of wonder and the exploration of beauty...

i love these images for their mystery and their ability to evoke things beyond illustration and understanding. taken out of context, they have the ability to be traveresed with eyes, fingers, and minds towards some greater unknown (plus how else do you arrive at a place connecting victorian soap bubble imagery with duchamp's rotoreliefs!). there's a whitman poem about astronomy that contradicts boys' introductory text beautifully:

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

of course, i'd take it a step further and hope that one could look down in perfect silence at the charts, diagrams, and numbers in their mystical air as well!

lastly, take a peek at the wonderful new woolgathersome blog... to see another printing of the same book here ....

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

two man circus...


1. the guy with the bucket (and his face, arms, and striped pants).
2. the string of light bulbs.
3. the band beneath the stage.
4. the people in the window just above the word national.
5. the big box on the stage (and the empty chair... and the patterned rug)
6. the little boy in black on the right side (and his mom sitting behind him).
7. the reflections beneath c. butsch.
8. the word "ositary"
9. the black abstract shapes in the windows above c. butsch.
10. all of the ladies in hats...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

verna clark...


since hers is the only name scrawled on the back, methinks she's the one with the ballpoint halo...

Labels: ,

Monday, March 05, 2007




from an album entitled "the bells of iowa state" containing three 78's, found at the flea on sunday. the discs contain recordings from the 1940's of the carillon at iowa state college, which was supposedly the first scientifically tuned chime of bells to leave europe. they are played here by professor ira schroeder.

the word carillon is french in origin, and is derived from medival latin quadrilionem (a quarternary), the carillons at the time being sounded on four bells (now known as a chime). the carillon at iowa state has 36 tuned bells.

some of the bells have inscriptions on their surfaces such as "my language is understood all over the world" hayden; and "harmonizing this earth with what we feel above" shelley. because of the ringing length of each note, and the potential for dissonant overtones (as well as what would appear to be the awkward physical handling of the instrument); the rhythmic structures of the melodies are really interesting... tentative at times and robotic at others...

click and listen to:
side 1,
side 2,
side 3,

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

the goetheanum...





i recently found a book on rudolf steiner's architecture from the late 1920's with a surprise hiding between a few of the pages... a newspaper insert from january 1929, announcing steiner's recently completed second goetheanum in dornach switzerland (just outside of basel).

the insert shows steiner's massive concrete structure during construction and right about the time it was finished. it's a remarkable structure that i was fortunate to visit last year (on a pilgrimage that also included the emma kunz museum, and corbusier's chappel at ronchamp). although it's about as far as you can get from the humble scaled structures i generally love (corbusier's cabin, the schindler house, etc.); steiner's massive statement still managed to kill me. it's such a unique structure for the time (and still feeling that way 80 years later); that it becomes a kind of outsider architecture, as steiner was thinking mostly about spirituality; and looking at nature as a model rather than architecture. it was a very different use of nature as inspiration than architects like victor horta or frank lloyd wright; it was part of a whole world steiner was developing around nature that included architecture, dance, and even something called biodynamic gardening).

i'm consistently amazed how little the goetheanum is discussed in terms of architectural history; and am guessing it has to do with steiner's ideas surrounding anthroposophy and the fact that the structure still operates as a bustling study center devoted to steiner's ideas. regardless of intentions, there is no denying how progressive the forms of this structure are in relation to traditional structures and material uses of the time - visually connected more to some of the set designs from the cabinet of dr. caligari. steiner's choice of concrete was not only towards the creation of the goethanum's organic forms; but because the first goethanum (which was made out of wood) was burned to the ground by an arsonist, this second one becomes an unlikely precedent for the architecture of bunkers built during the second world war. clearly, it would take a lot more than matches to destroy this building!

although i've never read anything to confirm it, i can't imagine the goetheanum wasn't on corbusier's mind when he began his work on the chappel for ronchamp and some of his later concrete works in india.

Labels: , , ,