Monday, July 30, 2007

the man with the tie and the drum...


i know nothing about fars bakchich other than his voice is unbelievable, his person seems a bit other worldly, and the cover design on this 7" is stellar. i was initially disappointed to discover that 80% of this entire 7" is talking - yes, it's fars sounding like he's speaking in tongues and taking on the voices of several people, telling what i can only surmise is a story, at a frenetic pace...but i wanted to hear the drum, and a song

by some miracle, the last minute and a half revealed this!

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

when stars become words (and notes)...



finally back for a little while and figured before i dive into the pile of old photos to scan here, i'd do a post on the project i was working on.

a lot of the things i post here are part of the collection for various reasons, the main one of course being that an object simply sings to me. there are times when something gets deeper under my skin, and once in a fortunate while, these things actually begin to generate my work.

some of you might remember a post from january about a list of star name pronounciations. my obsession with this thing has grown over the months, and i have been working with it to generate a score for a large scale installation that will happen in porto alegre brazil in september.

rather than fill the blog with this stuff, here's a link to some notes, models, drawings, etc. on my website. the above images are a cardboard model of the largest structure (which will eventually be made out of wood and should be big enough for 3 or 4 people to be inside of!), and one of the pages of the sound score (which will be used to generate the sounds that will go inside of each of teh structures...).

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Friday, July 27, 2007

dust my broom...



i'm guessing this tintype is the earliest known photograph of someone playing air guitar.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2 from the white dominican...

"in the hazy distance the mountains hover in the air like clouds, and the clouds press down upon the earth like heavy mountains."

"your hand must learn the task your spirit will later carry on... however low the occupation, it will be ennobled when the spirit can take it over. a task that the spirit refuses to inherit is not worthy of being performed by the body."

gustav meyrink, the white dominican

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Monday, July 23, 2007

a perimeter...

"as he smoked a cigarette in the sun it occurred to him that in every city, in every house, in himself even, there existed a perimeter, a spot where people could seek refuge as they struggled to survive the events life imposed on them. an exclusion zone, a place of blindness, of small, slow insects, of redoubts, of sudden, never properly understood, never well-timed, moments of reversal."

juan carlos onetti, the shipyard

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

when rain becomes stars...

"a fine drizzle began to fall and, each time they passed a street-lamp, every drop became a star."

georges simenon, maigret and the hundred gibbets.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

philadelphia stories...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

it's a small world...




in philadelphia today, i visited the ryerss museum. a great victorian family's collection, mainly from travels around the world circa 1900. a lot of asian antiques, seashells, books, souvenirs, china, etc. a wonderfully intimate and all over the place collection.

the best thing by far was a tiny globe of the earth, a small sphere with what appeared to be hand colored etching bits pasted on the surface. the amazing thing was the interior of the holder had the zodiac and stars all over it - one of the most beautiful little star maps i've ever seen. the sphere was between the size of a golf ball and a base ball.

unfortunately, my new camera crapped out a few days ago so i have the old beater with me here, and as you can see it takes rotten pics in less than perfect lighting conditions... and as it really wasn't being my friend, after the pics of the holder were taken, it ran out of memory, so no images of the globe either... you'll have to use your imagination. i wish i could've put this in my pocket and taken it home!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

on the road again...


i'm out of town again this week and next. i might post some texts but unlikely to post photos. i would love to travel this way, but unfortunately gators don't fly... images this nice end up in the collection regardless of their unwillingness to be related to music...

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when treehouses become cages...



when i first started buying photos, i looked at the subject and the overall mood, but i generally paid little attention to the background. the nice thing was that once i got home i would discover other things, incidentally or accidentally captured in the background... a street sign, a ghost image, a person, an object, etc.

nowadays, i usually scour the background of images pretty thoroughly at first approach, because there's always a chance i'll discover something more interesting than the central subject...

the above is a pretty nice picture of a band, probably from around 1890. the band and the instruments are great, but i was struck much more by the treehouse in the background. the form reminds me of german expressionist architects' drawings, and the forms of bruno taut. the two triangle forms, forming a square seem right out of alexander girard's vocabulary. the repeated curved elements of bent wood, just totally amazing and evoking that great painting by manet (even though manet's balcony railing forms are totally different)... this is folk art at its highest outsider homespun form.

if you look at the detail, you can see a little child hiding within what now becomes a cage (in a strange connection, in manet's balconly painting there is a little dog hiding in one corner). the deep dark serious eyes have the child looking very much like he was transported here from a 70's italian horror film (or perhaps as the reincarnated anger of manet's little dog). the blurred edges of the blankets make them seem like animal skins, and the atmosphere evokes a kind of tribal poetic darkness... is the youngster the king or the captured.

if one looks again at the band, you begin to wonder about the expressions on their faces. they don't look as happy as they did before you noticed the kid... in fact they look downright uncomfortable and slightly unsure...

for me, it's the beauty of not knowing the truths in these photos, that allows me to engage with them in so many different ways. in many cases their truths are, of course, unknown to me; and similarly, their subjects have no personal connection to my own family history. there is no baggage from overwhelming memories of a subject, so it is possible to enter an image from so many different vantage points - not only through eyes, but emotionally as well as the thinking mind.

the unintentional emptiness of specific known histories, allows them to exist as pure images, leaving the determination of life stories, value, and meanings to be brought to the table by any viewer. each captured single moment of stillness contains a wealth of possible narratives (both leading up to their moment of capture, as well as what might have come after), and allows one to continually be immersed in these tiny pictured worlds.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

avoid complete synchronization...

"that there should be no music to the older silent flms is a rather pure and pedantic attitude since there has actually never been "silent" films in the sense of viewing them in a black and utterly silent void... as a precedent for this question we asked hans richter for his attitude. his reply settles the matter, as far as this book is concerned, once and for all.

"i believe firmly that music for the silent avant garde film is essential. of course it depends on what music. however i do not believe in the synchronization of sound and image...i agree with man ray that we must avoid complete synchronization. we should find a way to let the sound and the picture move on its own in the same direction, but nevertheless, separately. this refers to the spoken word as well as to the musical and other sounds."

paul velguth, art in cinema, 1947

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Friday, July 13, 2007

rhythmics, melodics, dynamics...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

moon dust...





these images were taken by the russian spacecraft lunik III in october of 1959 and reproduced in flying saucers magazine in 1962.

i have to say i have a lot of love for images that are full of artifacts of a less than perfect translation process... it gives them atmosphere, and a sense of abstraction that feels like some kind of inner voice is also being captured by the process. the photos we see here have an even grittier presence due to the fact that they were reproduced very poorly in a cheap magazine, and printed on newsprint. in this case, something might be lost in terms of scientific details (and indeed the article questions if there is any value in such "poor quality" photos), but much beauty is certainly gained in the process... their ethereal presence is like a hybrid of of 19th century spirit photos and a fax machine.

speaking of process... according to ray palmer, who wrote the article, "the vagueness of the photos is due to the fact that development had to take place in space using a very unique method of chemical development because of the weightless factor and the heat that existed inside the capsule that would have ruined ordinary negatives, and transmission had to be by radio wave, subject to enormous interference from static and conflicting signals".

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

when iron eyes speak with hands...








anyone who watched a lot of saturday morning cartoons in the early 70's surely must remember iron eyes cody as the indian who stares out at a trash covered landscape as a tear slowly falls down his cheek. even to a goofy jaded 8 year old, the image at the end of this commercial was pretty darn sad.

iron eyes was a cherokee who ended up on a lot of tv shows portraying... an american indian. the flea market was actually quite kind to me on sunday, so along with the chinese 78 i posted a few days ago, i also came across a 1970 book called indian talk by iron eyes. it takes w.p. clark's 1884 book indian sign language to a whole new level. the cut and paste graphic design is worthy of an early conceptual art photo piece, and the images of cody, his wife, and two sons, demonstrating such things as the hand signs for "bacon","telephone", and "chicken"(see above) are pretty wonderful.

here i've placed cody in a sequence of a kind of ian hamilton finlay poem, with the exception of the last image, which is the hand signal for "i am speaking"... which seems like it would be relatively unnecessary to know...

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007




"The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements (1) of retreat from the spectator, (2) of turning in upon its own centre. The inclination of blue to depth is so strong that its inner appeal is stronger when its shade is deeper. Blue is the typical heavenly colour.[...The halos are golden for emperors and prophets (i.e. for mortals), and sky-blue for symbolic figures (i.e. spiritual beings).] The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest.[Supernatural rest, not the earthly contentment of green. The way to the supernatural lies through the natural. And we mortals passing from the earthly yellow to the heavenly blue must pass through green.] When it sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human.[As an echo of grief violet stand to blue as does green in its production of rest.] When it rises towards white, a movement little suited to it, its appeal to men grows weaker and more distant. In music a light blue is like a flute, a darker blue a cello; a still darker a thunderous double bass; and the darkest blue of all-an organ."
w. kandinsky, concerning the spiritual in art.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

lucky record...


picked up this chinese 78 at the flea market on sunday for $1. no idea who it is or what song, but side B is pretty darn nice... click here to listen

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

paintings within a painting...




three details from the background of georg achen's 1901 painting "det gule chatol" from the funen art museum, odense. smaller than postcards, larger than postage stamps, i suppose they are supposed to read as reflections of realistic imagery when seen from a distance... but with one's nose near the canvas, they are certainly wonderful little abstract paintings...

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

music and flags...

since it's the 4th of july, i figured i should share some of the RPPCs with flags. hopefully there's a thread of dissonance along with complacency... and perhaps a bit of hope for a little more star inducing peace and a little less stripe inducing chaos...or at worst a little more fake beard wearing freaks with organettes, and a plentiful presence of shellac sharing beneath some really large flags...





i'll be back to posting on sunday...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

when months become knuckles and planets become moth wings...


the above image is another gem from todd's new astronomy. this time a little trick to help remember which months have 30 or 31 days. todd says that the old "thirty days hath september..." is time worn (and this was in 1897...!)

the easier method, he claimed, is pictured above, whereby one begins at the top of the hand and moves along the knuckles and depressions between them, starting with january. in the end, the knuckles represent the longer months, and the depressions, the shorter ones.

todd goes on to say that dividing the year into 13 months would be much better than the 12 month calendar because the months would have an equal number of days... unfortunately he doesn't mention what the 13th month might be named...nor how to decide what to do with the extra day on leap year...




this second batch of images are also from todd's new astronomy. these, from my absolute favorite of the few gorgeous color plates, are images of mars as seen during different seasons. the ink or watercolor images remind me of making drawings by blowing air through a straw onto wet ink blobs when i was a kid.

the ink blown blues hover between pure abstraction and reminding me a lot of moth's wings... moving again back to childhood memories, this time to the powder marks left on the fingertips when touching them... and if one is willing to dive deeper, one can allow these wonderfully random connective tissues to begin to connect todd's new astronomy, with one of the greatest unions of moths and abstraction ever made...mothlight

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Monday, July 02, 2007

in a landscape...



1930's RPPC from latvia...

this is one of my dream sculptures - a hybrid of unintended associations including stockhausen's sternklang park music, superstudio's continuous moments, and alexander graham bell's pyramid tetrahedral structures... and of course, russolo.

looking at these giant speakers i can't help but hope that this crowd is in the midst of a cloud of futurist sound compositions fueled by the ideas in russolo's art of noises, and composed using sounds from his list of "the 6 families of noises of the futurist orchestra":

Noises obtained by percussion on metal, wood, skin, stone, tarracotta, etc.
Voices of animals and men:

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