Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a mathematics calculating nothing...

"but is it not already an insult to call it anything so narrow as a game? is it not also a science, an art, hovering between these categories like muhammad's coffin between heaven and earth, a unique yoking of opposites, ancient and yet eternally new, mechanically constituted and yet an activity of the imagination alone, limited to a fixed geometric area but unlimited in its permutations, constantly evolving and yet sterile, a cogitation producing nothing, a mathematics calculating nothing, an art without an artwork, an architecture without substance and yet demonstrably more durable in its essence and actual form than all books and works, the only game that belongs to all people and all eras, while no one knows what god put it on earth to deaden boredom, sharpen the mind, and fortify the spirit? where does it begin, where does it end?..."

stefan zweig, chess story 1942

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

frequent flyer...


well, my insane travel schedule is taking over once again... i'm going to berlin for a show of my work at susanne vielmetter berlin projects. the above is one of the recent paintings, part of a series i've been working on for the past few years using a classical music score to generate translation systems towards image building. if you are interested you can see most of the work for the show here. if you are in or near berlin, you can get info on the show here, the opening is may 31st.

it is unlikely i will have much of an internet connection or time to load things to the blog, but you never know what might show up randomly... by june 10th i should be back on daily airforms duty again. with any luck i'll bring home some old pieces of paper... i'm making a secret pilgrimage to see some very special things that i'll post on when i return.

Labels: , ,

my face looks like my music...



early RPPC from france, probably 1910. no idea what this instrument is, but it sure looks a lot like the musician's face...

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

resonant (s)tones...




from the 1996 exibition brochure worlds within worlds - chinese scholars' rocks: "the rocks in this show exhibit the entire canon of prized formal elements. among the most important are awkwardness (a top heavy form with one or more overhanging peaks); resonance (rings when struck by metal); representation (suggests a landscape, figure, or animal); wrinkling (heavily textured or subtle surfaces that suggest extreme age); moistness (glossy and highly tactile surfaces)."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

perhaps inspired by the goofus...



a nice cdv with a young man holding a somewhat strange instrument - some kind of accordion horn. i believe from web surfing, that this is a hohnerette, but i'd be happy to hear from anyone out there who knows (i'd also be interested in anyone who might have one of these they want to part with!).

"Once a common feature of such things as the Sears Roebuck catalog, the blow accordion (sometimes also called mouth accordion or flute harmonica) is essentially an accordion without bellows. The most common form has ten buttons or keys, plus a pair of bass and chord buttons, just like the common diatonic accordion or melodeon, although the blow accordion usually only has a single set of reeds with just one reed per note. They have been made in a variety of forms, from the box-like Hohnerette, to cylindrical models such as Hohner's Organette and the Fluta by Christian Weiss. The Hohner Sax was a blow accordion made in the shape of a saxophone, perhaps inspired by the goofus."

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

vivid sound images...


"sounds around us" was a three disc 78 set that also had a picture book (my record set is missing the book) and was created by scott, forseman and company for educational purposes in 1951. it's a series of recordings using field recording type sounds (although clearly created by a foley artist) to "teach" children to develop their sense of hearing towards the creation of mind pictures (seemingly illustrative more than imaginary).

the extensive liner notes have some timely things to say about noise and listening:"many children today, especially those in crowded cities, are growing up in a world of noise, where the tendency is to shut the mind, if not the ears, to nearly all sounds - to class them as general noise and try to shut them out rather than to isolate and identify any one sound. in our modern world, full of big, distracting sounds, it is quite understandable that many children never really hear or learn to interpret interesting little sounds. "really hearing" a sound means isolating it - becoming conscious of it and listening to it attentively - and only those sounds that have really been heard may be called up as vivid sound images."

the interesting thing here is that without the picture book, many of these simple narratives in sound are impossible to figure out. i like that with this key element missing, the activity of listening moves beyond illustrating a narrative and more towards a kind of blind listening, evocative of a different kind of experience and one that is open to much more imaginative trajectories.

click here to listen

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

three views...




bordsobjekt (table piece) by bjorn norgaard, 1967. a combination simple / complex grouping of basically three element arrangements - the thing, a white shadow of the thing messy, a white shadow of the thing geometric and crisp. if you look at it from the front you see all three,while from each of the two sides you only see one.

part fluxus table scraps, part architectural model, part constant's new babylon, and part skateboard ramps for the mind; norgaard's seminal work is seemingly junk thrown together until you start to deal with it as sculpture - objects defined by the space they inhabit and how one moves around them within that space - clearly there is some expanding complexity lurking beneath the apparent simplicity and misleading sense of arbitrariness.

each of the trash forms are vessels, and each looks like it might have held the same amount of plaster that ended up as the forms on the right and left of the objects... if these empty vessels once contained the foodstuffs of nourishment, then what is one to make of the ramps and lumps beside them? these white forms have no pockets, nor room in their interiors for existing matter to be stored or held. do they contain ideas? or a different kind of nourishment? or can they relieve a different kind of hunger...?

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

during the rain...

"during the rain there is a certain darkness that stretches out all objects. beyond that, its effect on our body forces us to withdraw into ourselves, and this inwardness makes our soul infinitely more sensitive. the very noise rain produces continuously occupies the ear, awakes attentiveness and keeps us on the alert. the brownish hue moisture gives to the walls, the trees, the rocks, adds to the impression these objects make. and the solitude and silence it spreads out around the traveler, but forcing animals and men to be quiet and to seek shelter makes these impressions more distinct. enveloped in his coat, his head covered, and moving along deserted paths, the traveler is struck by everything, and everything is enlarged before his imagination or his eyes. the streams are swollen, the grass is thicker, the stones are more sharply defined: the sky is closer to the earth, and all objects, closed up in this narrow horizon, occupy a greater space and importance."

the notebooks of joseph joubert (1754-1824)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

the birds...


might they be playing bird songs?????

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

sometimes mistakes are made...


so much of my work comes from mistakes, and finding potential in the results of accidents and the unintended... in this case my scanner was set to enlarge a small image of a drum head in a photo of a band, but i changed the photo and didn't look at the settings and hit the "scan" button...the resulting image above is something i'd never have made intentionally...but it reminds me a bit of one of strindberg's photos... and it seemed a good time to inject a little abstraction into the weekend...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 18, 2007

join the club...


1914 livingston il, zither club RPPC

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

water music...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

typewriter flowers...


lilac, by mary ellen solt, from anthology of concretism, published by the chicago review 1967. this image is perfection.... some text on concrete poetry by solt can be found here.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

9 sided room...

since some of you follow my work outside of the archives, i've decided to periodically post links to things related to my own work... i really don't want this to evolve into a space for promoting my own activities; but i also figure i should share some things that are not only inspiration for my work, but are my work.

the folks at touch recently invited me to contribute a track to their touch radio series of download/listenings. it's an exclusive track that will only live there, but you can snag it for free. as some of you have probably never heard my sound work, it's a good opportunity to hear 9 of my pieces layered on top of each other... the roden equivalent of speed reading. there's also a lot of other interesting sounds/artists on the site...

listen: touch radio

Labels: ,

before and after music ...



Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

frankie and my mom...



well, since it's mother's day today i thought i'd post this picture. my mom's not in it, but i'm sure she wishes she was. it's a great photo of a bunch of folks who won some kind of frank sinatra contest... each winner holding an LP (it doesn't really matter because my mom had all these LPs already i'm sure!).

when she was a teenager, my mom was completely obsessed with frankie. she had one entire wall of her bedroom covered with magazine photos (in today's world we'd call her a stalker), and even went to vegas on her honeymoon to see ol' blue eyes perform. at one point my grandfather had some dealings with frankie and because he was extremely indulgent to his kids (and grandkids!), he let his 13 year old frankie obsessed daughter secretly listen in on the phone... lo and behold frankie let off a string of F-bombs that had both of their mouths agape.

in light of all this, happy mother's day wishes to all the moms out there, including govi's mom, who's having her first mother's day ever. my advice to her is when her son wants to listen in on a phone call from strange uncle steve is that she should not let him near the phone...

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 12, 2007

the infernal trio...




well it seems a bit of a while since i've posted some good ol' music RPPC's. here are three from that ever growing pile...

the japanese woman with the victrola and a gosh darned buddha listening nipponophone sleeve in her hand arrived while i was gone. the trombonist seemingly mesmerised by nature and in complete stillness has been here awhile. i have no idea when the slide guitar player began living here, but it's one of the better slide guitar cards i have.

no blabbering commentary... just enjoy the pics. (p.s. this post is dedicated to mr. millis... i was somewhat obsessed with this junk before i met him, but he certainly sent it all into overdrive... he'd probably kill me and steal the top photo if he lived closer...check out his band, mischief, and relative insanity here).

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

finding a lost song...

"spring had come to the mountain-tracts. it was sunday morning; the weather was mild and calm, but the air somewhat heavy, and the mist lay low on the forest... when he opened the door the fresh smell of the leaves met him; the garden lay dewy and bright in the morning breeze, but from the ravine sounded the roaring of the waterfall, now in lower, then again in louder booms, till all around seemed to tremble... as he went further from the fall, its booming became less awful, and soon it lay over the landscape like the deep tones of an organ."
bjornstjerne bjornson, arne, 1869

three things...

1. every time i was outside of a city in norway i could hear the white noise of waterfalls. if a mountain was visible, this sound was also audible. sometimes it was crushing, and sometimes i didn't notice it until i put on headphones while trying to record some small sound; and it seemed to exemplify some continual force of nature... it was seemingly everywhere.

2. while i was in norway i was reading an 1869 edition of arne and what i started to think about was this idea of text translation and how perhaps, translations done at the time of the writing are closer to the language and feeling of the original, as opposed to recent translations that are borne of great research but an entirely different moment in time. arne feels so much like an artefact of an era, and the english language in this early translation, while possibly not perfect in relating the nuances of bjornson's norwegian, might be closer to capturing that victorian era norwegian feeling in english than a translator would be able to today...

3. the genius of this quote is twofold. one is that sense of poetry that comes from finding music in nature. there are so many pitches and tones ringing together in moving water sounds, and this somewhat mystical passage is so connected to the actual experience of hearing these things. the other side of the quote for me is in the idea that one can manipulate the sounds of the landscape by simply walking around and experiencing them from different ear view points. if one receeds from a loud sound it can become tolerable and beautiful - ideas that cage would exploit with regards to the listener also being a composer, and the audience finding music in various types of experiences...who'd have thought of finding such things in a beautiful little old romantic tale...

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

natural selection part two...











the counterpoint to the colorful surrealist models below were the circa 1900 artifacts of nature also dwelling the plant life section of the bergen natural history museum, pictured above. unfortunately between the low light, wavy old glass cases, and the depth of the shelves i wasn't able to get great images; but these early photos, hand written or hand typed scraps of paper labels, and fragments of real nature forms mounted on wood or paper, were like little poem objects.

they weren't like seeing joseph cornell's work as much as they were like peeking into one or two of his boxes of stuff. all were fragile, many were broken, discolored, and/or simply odd in terms of their display forms.

i just kept thinking that between the stuffed animals, the giant sculpted life size whale heart, the birds, the room of skeletons, etc. these little twigs and seeds felt totally quiet and alone.

if you like looking at things like this you should also regularly check out the wonderful woolgathersome blog...

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

natural selection part one...







some images of models related to trees from the natural history museum in bergen norway. the museum still has many areas that feel like 1900, and the rooms filled with animals in display cases felt like a real sideshow spectacle - complete with a stuffed duck billed platypus! unlike the queasy punch of this great hall filled with a horde of dead animals, a small section on the ground floor related to plant life contained some quieter cabinets of curiosities.

in these slightly gloomy and haphazard displays, there were many things to grab the attention of a sensitive eye; but the objects that stood out as the oddest were a series of plaster and painted models of seeds, spores, stems, etc. related to the biology of trees.

these strange and wonderfuly surrealist and martian-like structures verged on abstraction and felt like visual companions to the paintings of artists like arthur dove and georgia o'keefe - where the spiritual in abstraction and science have collided. i have to say, they were a lot more inspiring than most of the contemporary art i saw on the journey... i will post some other things from the museum soon.

(p.s. for those of you who asked about ant sounds, they've now added my recording to the sleppet site, see link a few posts below).

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 03, 2007

three landscapes...




a nice hotel in bergen norway with good internet connection and unable to sleep tonight... so a post of images from the national gallery of art in oslo ... the top by edvard munch, the middle by august strindberg, and the bottom by peder balke. all three were mind bending, mystical, and sublime....

the munch has this wonderful test tube shape of the moon reflected in the sea that he used in a lot of works. i also visited the munch museum, and it really seems that if you want to get a sense of how lonely it is at times to be an artist munch's work really reveals so much of this. the paintings are tinged with psychedelic colors, and seem so much about an interior life. in many of the works, the outside of things is almost dead cold and dark, while the inside is living breathing luminous mystical activity...

the stringberg painting was an unbelievable surprise. i've obsessed over his paintings for years and never was able to see one in person until i turned the corner in the museum and there was the sea marn, which has always been one of my absolute favorites. a perfect compliment to munch's interior work; strindberg painted a bit like a mainiac and the interior frenetic activity of munch is all over the surface of strindberg's seascapes - the large cliff/rock is a ton of built up slapped on paint. it's completely haunting to see these dense grays and blacks created with a kind of manic energy. having recently visited a small island at the westernmost tip of norway, it seems to be related to the incredible force of the wind, which was, in reality, completely insane.

peder balke was an artist i'd never heard of and two of his works were up in the museum, including the bottom image, which was absolutely stunning. the entire mountain area in the sky was simply loose paint applied with a pallet knife and then rubbed over with a patina. you can feel the shift of his wrist in it, and much of the imagery at the bottom is also done with what appear to be quick scrapes of paint. amongst his contemporaries, the technique and results are completely amazing and forward thinking. and, again, these landscapes feel somewhat more about the inside of things (interior movement, history, being alive....)

it was a really wonderful experience to start my trip experiencing the landscape through these paintings, and then going out into the reality of it, seeing traces of all of these in many of the places i visited...

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


i'm still in norway working on a project related to grieg and the norwegian spring. while i didn't really intend to use the archives in relation to my own work, if anyone is interested in the project, the curator (jorgen the sleppet super-hero!) has created a site/blog at there are photos, sounds and video of the journey so far... today i made recordings of an ant hill on a snowy mountain surrounded by tiny cabins abandoned until spring...and yes... i got covered with ants... ygh!... i'm still searching for trolls...